First published April 2021
If you’re a climate activist in the UK in 2021, it can be easy to feel hopeless and disillusioned in the face of party politics. Politicians pay lip service to tackling the crisis, yet we’re still hurtling towards irreversible climate change. The much publicised Green Home Grants was quietly scrapped last month , while the Committee on Climate Change criticised the government last year for failing to take enough action on issues such as flash floods and the loss of biodiversity.
It’s also easy to feel like the only elections that really matter are the big ones; but this is really not the case. The results of local elections (which are coming up in Bristol on May 6th) are what determine how your local area behaves. Schools, bin collections and libraries… but how your local area responds to climate change.
Do you wish the council would stop mowing down all those bee-friendly plants on the verges? Do you want to see more cycling lanes and fewer cars whizzing past your front garden? Then do a bit of digging about your local candidates and vote for the greenest options.
After all, we in Bristol were the first in Europe to declare a climate emergency. This is great opportunity for the Climate Concerned amongst us to put the pressure on and ensure that we are acting appropriately.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
In line with West Bristol Climate Action’s politics month, here are three things you can do to ensure you vote with green in mind in the upcoming elections.
1. Attend a climate hustings
Hustings are the local meetings that happen ahead of an election that give constituents a chance to ask questions. If you decide to go to a hustings, do a bit of research in advance and come armed with a question or two that you want answered. For example, you might want to know what candidates are planning to do about the fact that more people die in Bristol every year because of air pollution than car accidents , or whether they support the appeal to continue planned harmful extension to Bristol airport.
There are four events Bristol events focused on the candidates’ climate plans.
The first is the Bristol Mayoral Debate on ‘People, Places and Climate’ on April 8th. Marvin Rees and the mayoral wannabes will be debating their ideas and plans about, amongst other things, the climate.
Candidates will be asked how the city can reduce emissions and congestion as well as how technology will be embraced to address the climate emergency.
You can book your place here.
The second and third events are for the West of England (WECA) Mayoral candidates on April 19th (book here)
and the Bristol Mayoral candidates on April 27th (book here). In these events, candidates for the two respective elections will be asked to set out their vision for ensuring that the region’s response to the climate emergency will be both fair and fast.
Finally, on April 21st, the Bristol Mayoral candidates will be quizzed on how they will ensure that Bristolians can walk and cycle in safety. This is your chance to find out who is prepared to make the radical changes that are necessary to tackle air quality emergency in our city. Book here.
2. Contact the candidates
If you can’t make any of the hustings, another option is to get in touch with the candidates and ask them what they plan to do to tackle the climate emergency in our city. You might want to give examples of how climate change has impacted you and your loved ones. Or perhaps there are specific questions you would like answered.
Asking questions in this way serves two purposes. Not only does it mean you get the answers you need, it also demonstrates to the candidates that their potential future constituents care about the climate. Hopefully, this will push climate change issues up the agenda.
You can find out more about the council candidates here. Booklets about the candidates for both WECA and Bristol mayors will be posted to you nearer the time.
Photo by Florencia Viadana on Unsplash
3. Shout about your findings
The final really important step you can take is to tell people what you’ve found. If you discover that one candidate is really prepared to stand up for the climate, let people know that you will be voting for them, and explain why. Post on social media. Message your local friends. You might even want to consider volunteering to help that candidate - they will be glad of your support! This volunteering could consist of anything from putting a poster in your window to delivering flyers or ringing voters. Get in touch with that candidate to offer your support. They will be delighted to hear from you!
Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash
Did you know: If you want to register for a postal vote (which many of us might want to do as Covid continues), the deadline for doing this is April 20th. You can apply here.
Do you have any tips for how to push climate change up the political agenda? If so, get in touch via the box below to tell us your thoughts.