On Wednesday 17 June, thousands of people from across the UK – including many WWF supporters – will converge on Westminster to tell newly elected Members of Parliament why they should be concerned about climate change, and what they should do to tackle it. This mass lobby – organised by The Climate Coalition – will ensure that a chorus of voices will speak up together in Parliament, and that our elected representatives will be left in no doubt about the priority we want them to give to protecting what we love from climate change. If you haven’t already signed up to join us on the day , please do so now!
If you are signed up, fantastic! It’s going to be a fun day, as well as an important one. But I’m not going to use this blog to tell you what you might say to your MPs, though it is worth thinking about what kind of messages they might respond to. As far as you know, is your MP a nature lover, or most concerned about the impact climate change could have on the poorest people around the world? Or is the pressing priority for them to tackle climate change because of the impacts that not doing so could have on long-term security and economic growth ?
We’ll send more information separately on what you could say, and we also want as many personal hopes, fears and experiences to form part of the conversations that happen on the day; there are as many reasons to want to see action on climate change as there will be people at the event in London on 17 June. What I really want to do here though is say a bit about what lobbying (or just speaking to) your MP feels like.
The not so dark arts
The first thing to say is that lobbying your MP is an honourable pursuit, not a shady activity! The word ‘lobby’ has picked up some baggage that really isn’t justified – the sense that it’s in some way a secret or ‘not above board’ activity. In fact, telling your MP what matters to you is exactly the opposite – it’s about openness; ensuring they work for you, and that they understand the things that matter to you so they can do so more effectively. It’s about speaking to them on the record, in the bright light of day (well, maybe that’s putting a little too much faith in the British summer weather, but you know what I mean!). As our politicians said repeatedly during the recent General Election campaign we – the voters – are their bosses. So we need to make sure they understand what we want them to do.
MPs are human beings too
In a BBC debate during the General Election, Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Brinton remarked that “sometimes people forget politicians are human as well”, to which presenter Andrew Neil replied “what’s the evidence of that?” But the noble Baroness had a point. Your MPs are indeed human beings, and like all groups of people, they have a wide range of interests. In my experience of talking to MPs over many years, most are actually also quite pleasant, and want to hear what you’ve got to say – that’s even more the case if you are one of their constituents. They are also not experts on every subject they deal with; they can’t be, given the number of different issues people bring to them. So don’t worry that your MP will know much more than you about climate change, or will try to catch you out – the chances are it will be you who knows more than them and, if you need help, there will be plenty of staff from The Climate Coalition organisations on hand on the day of the event.
But they have lots on their plates
One thing though that is true of MPs is that they are busy. They receive hundreds of letters, e-mails and phone calls a week and, in addition to their parliamentary business, spend a lot of time flitting from one meeting to the next. So there is a limit to the amount of detail they can absorb. Lobbying them effectively therefore means being as clear and concise as you can be with what you want to say. We have prepared for you a clear brief setting out the key actions MPs should take. There will also be a short document to hand in to your MP. If they want more information they will ask for it, and if you don’t have it with you you can send it through later. Please remember to let members of the Coalition know what your MP told you.
Keeping it local
We will have important messages about the need for both national and international action to tackle climate change. But your MP will also want to hear why the issues matter to you. Which local wildlife do you fear will be lost to a changing climate? What has been the impact of flooding in your area? Is enough happening near you to develop new, renewable sources of energy? Local examples, and local stories, make the conversation about climate change real and immediate – and they will also underline to your MP’s why you care enough to visit them in London.
Most of all though, enjoy the day. Visiting Parliament is a great experience, and all the more so as part of such a large group of people calling for action on the same issues. I look forward to seeing you there!
Want more info on the lobby event? Download our lobby pack PDF
Want to join us on 17 June to lobby MP’s on climate change? Sign up now!