A climate of concern? Why we have to keep talking about climate change

What do you love?

This is the slightly surprising question the Climate Coalition has been asking. As the UK’s largest group dedicated to lobbying on climate change, and with everyone from Oxfam to the RSPB providing input, they should be a force to be reckoned with – but there’s a problem.

Climate change has fallen out of public consciousness – or rather, we’ve simply gotten used to the idea. It’s like a scratching noise coming from the walls of your house or a long, low buzzing; increasingly troubling, increasingly something you must try to fix, then – something you’re used to. Something you accept. You no longer worry about what the scratching in the walls might mean. You have long since stopped hearing the buzzing sound.

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A few years ago, I remember people expressing genuine concern about climate change in their everyday conversations. I remember frequent front page headlines. I remember Green becoming the new Black; not all that long ago it was fashionable to be climate conscious.

The trouble with fashions is that they soon pass. Meanwhile, climate change is an issue that remains with us, and is here to stay.

When we are faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem, it is natural to feel overwhelmed. It is natural to not want to think about earthquakes, landslides and famine – especially if you could be thinking about Game of Thrones, that job you want to apply for, your upcoming wedding, etc, etc. We don’t want to watch helplessly as people starve. We just want to live good lives as best as we can.

This is what the Climate Coaliton’s For the Love Of… Campaign focuses on. Instead of highlighting the potential horrors of climate change, the coalition wants to reignite our passion about tackling it.

Everything we love is affected by climate change. Whether its skiing in the Alps or a really good cup of coffee, the Great Barrier Reef or your local park, there is a beloved part of every person’s life that climate change could take away.

And there are things – real, tangible things – that you can do.

On June 17th, thousands of ordinary people will be coming together in Westminster for the Climate Coalition’s Speak Up event. This is a chance to tell MPs about the things we love the most and to ask to have them protected – by demanding strong action on climate change.

Even if you can’t make it to London on the day, speaking to your MP is invaluable. They represent you, and can consider issues relating to climate change on a local and global scale. Despite this, as many as 40% of MPs have never been lobbied on climate change before. They can’t know it matters to you unless you tell them.

Letting MPs know why you care about an issue is just as important as the issue itself – just listen to this podcast interviewing parliamentary candidates about what MPs need from grassroots campaigners [3]. Essentially, ensure your voice is heard by them by any means possible – in person, by email or over social media – and show how the issue you want to address affects you (and potentially, many others) on a personal level.

I have learnt more by attending the RESULTS National Conference on 13-15th June and Larissa and I will be posting more about their campaigns in the next few weeks.  RESULTS is an international grassroots organisation focused on effective campaigning and lobbying actions to eliminate extreme poverty, with local groups all over the UK – their London meeting was where I first heard about the Climate Coalition. They had this advice to give about talking to your MP:

  1. Be personal: MPs need to know why the issue matters to you, their constituent – do not just send a standard template email!
  2. Email, tweet and speak in person: anyway that is necessary to get yourself heard.
  • Show you are part of a larger group that shares your views.

Most of all, do not get overwhelmed by what is at stake. This should spur us on, rather than silence our discussions on climate change. Just remember what you love, and run with it.

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