In 2019, the UK became the world’s first “major economy” to pass climate action laws committing to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. And at the end of 2020, the government released its 10 point plan for a green industrial revolution, which (if followed) would help reach that target.
With the UN’s annual climate change conference, COP, being held in Glasgow this year, all eyes are on how the UK is doing with putting its plans into action. But with fears that the UK may miss its ambitious carbon reduction targets, how can we all make sure our political representatives keep climate justice at the top of the agenda?
Take action today: support the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill
We have publicly spoken out in support of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill, which – if passed – would require public bodies to “act in pursuit of the United Kingdom’s environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing”, including that of future generations.
The bill is currently going through the House of Commons, being sponsored by Caroline Lucas. We were invited by Big Issue co-founder Lord John Bird to support their Today for Tomorrow campaign to support the bill. Sign up to the campaign to receive guidance asking your MP to support the bill.
The coronavirus pandemic has shown we need more long-term thinking and planning in Government. The ‘Wellbeing of Future Generations’ Bill, if passed into law, will help tackle threats such as the climate crisis, poverty, pandemics, head on.
Checking your MP’s voting record on environmental issues
A good place to start is taking a look at how your MP has voted on environmental and climate policy in the past.
The UK Youth Climate Coalition, which brings together young climate activists and organises demonstrations and climate strikes, has launched an online tool to score MPs on their climate record. You can use it to see whether your MP was present for votes on key issues such as stopping fracking, passing the 2008 Climate Change Act and the 2020 Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill – along with how they voted each time. Each MP gets a traffic light-based score for their action on climate change based on their voting record.
Another useful resource is They Work For You, which gives a more detailed overview on how your MP tends to vote on policies across the political spectrum, from the climate crisis and human rights to defence and education.
Writing to your MP
Your MP represents you in parliament, whether you voted for them or not. If you write to them about issues that are important to you, they are obliged to respond. So, if an environmental problem is hitting the headlines or you know there’s an important vote in parliament coming up, you can contact them to make sure they know that their constituents expect them to take action.
Write to Them makes it easy to write to your MP and other political representatives such as members of the House of Lords. The website also provides lots of useful tips on how to get your point across and make sure that your letter will be read and answered.
Local government action
National targets and policies aren’t the only ones to pay attention to. The majority of local councils have declared climate emergencies and set their own climate action goals. Some, such as Brighton and Hove, have committed to be carbon neutral decades ahead of the 2050 target.
So, if you want to know what actions are being taken in your local area, start by checking your council’s website. Find out what services are available that can help people be greener. For example, some councils collect food waste for use in biogas production. Does the recycling collection where you live include food waste, and if not, why not?
Look out for public consultations on issues such as clean air zones, road and housing developments and investment in cycling and walking routes, and get involved. If you can’t find the information you need or have climate action ideas that you’d like to raise with the council, Write to Them also provides an option for contacting your councillors.
Vote for the planet
The next UK general election isn’t until 2024, but local elections are happening across many parts of the country in 2021. This includes county council as well as mayoral elections in cities such as London, Bristol and Greater Manchester. Despite not being a general election, local elections can still have an impact on regional climate action policies.
So if you’re registered to vote, don’t miss your chance to be heard.