The IPCC report in 2018 states that we must reduce our CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030 and be net zero by 2050 in order to not go above 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Otherwise, we will have major consequences. Given the major changes needed within 12 years—which is a very short amount of time—some say that we need to declare a climate emergency and act accordingly. Even though we are already seeing the effects of climate change with sea level rise, heat waves, and fires right now, climate change is not affecting the majority of people yet. Many feel it will not affect them in their lifetimes. But communities who are affected now or who understand and believe in the science reported can understand that there is an emergency, and we need to treat it as one.
Declaring a climate emergency makes the government put in more intensive immediate resources to solving climate change. It is a way to look at climate change as critical.