You might think that writing to your MP or local Councillors is an old fashioned way of doing anything about our climate and ecological crises. But research has shown that our elected officials don’t think the general public care very much about these issues:
…politicians feel under very little pressure to act on climate change. They report limited interest from their constituents, and need to find ways to make climate action relevant to the daily lives and concerns of the electorate.
This being the case, they will focus on other matters as a priority. We need to show them that people do care. If a Councillor or MP started receiving dozens or hundreds of emails (or even better, physical letters or visits to their surgeries) where people expressed strong views about climate change or related local problems such as indiscriminate pesticide use, air quality, food security, flooding – you can bet they will take notice.
All that said – what’s the best way to lobby your local MP or Councillor?
- Get as much in their faces as possible – I don’t mean be rude! But if you want someone to pay attention to you, meeting them face-to-face beats writing a letter. Sending a (physical) letter is better than sending an email, but a personally written email (rather than a template) is better than a copy pasted template. So get as far up this hierarchy as you can.
- Be personal. What is it that you are worried about? Your children’s future? The loss of local wildlife? Food security?
- Do it in groups. One letter may or may not make an impression. Five letters stands a much better chance. Fifty letters (assuming they are all from different constituents!) will definitely get their attention. Or three people turning up to their surgery every week for two months, wanting to talk about climate change. You get the idea. Strength in numbers and all that.
- Be specific about what you want them to do. Ask that they attend debates on this and related topics in Council or Parliament. At the very least, they can tell the other members that their constituents are concerned. Remind them that you can see what debates they have and have not attended!
- Follow up – if a major new report or event comes out, an email or letter asking that they read and pay attention shows that you are watching what they are doing.