How to get your MP to take climate action

January 30, 2020
Posted in Blog
January 30, 2020 Steve Shaw

Image courtesy of Jacqueline Kelly

Are you concerned about the climate crisis but unsure how to make a difference? The most impactful action you can take is to lobby your elected representatives, particularly your Member of Parliament (MP) who can influence new laws. This might sound daunting at first but it can be as simple as writing a letter, asking them to back climate solutions such as The Local Electricity Bill. We’ve answered some frequently asked questions to demystify grassroots lobbying and empower you to take action.

What’s the most effective way to combat the climate crisis?

The best thing you can do is to find a campaign which offers solutions and write a letter encouraging your MP to back it. The more specific the better. That’s why Power for People is campaigning for The Local Electricity Bill, because there’s nothing more effective than getting your MP to support something that’s already in Parliament. Of course there are lifestyle changes you can make as well, but the only way we’re going to fix the climate crisis is by central government taking action – they hold the power to set the rules that run everything. You need to be politically active and support campaigns that are specifically pushing governments to take the actions needed. 

Have Bill campaigns been successful in the past?

Yes. Previous Bill campaigns have been incredibly effective in creating profound change.

The first campaign our director (Steve) worked on was for the Doorstep Recycling Bill to become law. The campaign team, based at Friends of the Earth, called on supporters to lobby their MPs. In 2003, Parliament passed the Bill and that’s why every household in the country has the weekly doorstep recycling collection today.

A few years later, Steve went back to Friends of the Earth and worked on their campaign to get the Climate Change Bill through parliament. The approach was exactly the same – by mobilising thousands of people across the country to contact their MP asking them to support the Bill. In 2008, the Bill was pushed through and became the world’s first Climate Change Act – that’s why we have national 5-year carbon budgets and a 2050 target for emissions reductions. That Act has led to the closure of almost every coal power station in the UK and major expansion (though not enough!) of our renewable energy generation, including the largest offshore wind farms in the world.

Both of these campaigns only succeeded due to people making their voices heard by relentlessly (yet politely) asking their MPs to take the specific action. Now we need you to do the same for our Community Energy Revolution Campaign.

Photo by Nicholas Doherty on Unsplash

Image courtesy of Nicholas Doherty

Political lobbying is a bit out of my comfort zone – can you offer some advice?

We understand that it can seem daunting at first. MPs obviously know lots about Parliamentary processes and government policy and sometimes they say things that are quite technical. They might dismiss your concerns or even fob you off with technical, unclear or confusing responses. That’s why Steve set up Power for People, to help and empower you and many others like you to drive real political change. Here are four tips to bear in mind when writing to your MP:

  1. Never forget that it is your democratic right to contact your MP asking them to support things that you think are important – they are your elected representative and your democratic servant.
  2. When you write, use your own words as this will have the most impact.
  3. Always be polite and reasonable – you don’t want to give your MP any reason to ignore you.
  4. Never give up. If you get a response such as “I’m too busy” or “I won’t back this” then keep persevering. As long as they are your elected representative, you can continue asking them to support something.

Please share with us any replies you get from your MP. We can help you by suggesting things to say in follow up replies. If you’re ever unsure about how to respond then please get in touch – we can provide you with tailored advice, particularly for complicated and technical matters.

Do I need to become an expert on the Local Electricity Bill and the related facts and figures before I write to my MP?

Definitely not. You don’t need to be an expert on the specifics of the Bill. If you think the Bill sounds like something you would like to see made law then you only need to write a short and simple message to your MP, asking them to support it. We can suggest further points to make if you want, or you can use our guides and your own experience to add to the reasons why you want your MP to support it. If you want us to look over a message that you’ve written before you send it and suggest changes we’d be delighted to help.

Do I need to send a letter? Can’t I reach out to my MP via social media or email? 

Nothing is more powerful than sending a physical letter, so long as you have composed it yourself. Yes it takes a bit more time but it is so effective. Imagine how it feels when a personal letter arrives for you and compare this experience with what it’s like to receive an email. Quite different, isn’t it? That said, sending an email is good too, again as long as you compose it yourself. People often use template messages which have a far lesser impact than individual, personalised messages.

Reaching out to your MP via email or social media is good but the more effort you put in, the more likely you are to get a response. People take more notice of printed messages – think about a sack of letters arriving in an MP’s office versus an email that can be ‘marked as read’ with one click.

Photo by Dele Oke on Unsplash

Image courtesy of Dele Oke

Power for People has drafted The Local Electricity Bill which, if made law, would empower community energy groups to start up and sell their clean electricity to local people. This would create a huge surge in renewable energy across the country, with the money people pay for their electricity going towards things like local jobs, services and more efficient homes.

Please support our Community Energy Revolution campaign by writing to your local MP and asking them to back the Local Electricity Bill.