It’s vital we talk about climate change in this local election. Local councillors can have a real impact - councils can make major cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in areas such as housing, traffic and waste. Climate change is at a critical moment, we must take action now.
The good news is we have many of the solutions, and thousands of us are already getting stuck into making them happen. Low carbon lighting is winning over local councils - Islington, Newham, Kirklees and Hammersmith & Fulham have signed our pledge to go LED. People are pressuring their local council’s to divest from fossil fuels - and it’s working.
This is incredible stuff. But we need more of this action, and we need it faster - which means we need our local councils need to step up to the challenge too.
If you come face-to-face with one of your candidates, here are three questions to help you get to the bottom of their commitment to climate action.
1. How is my village/town/city playing its part in tackling climate change - and how will you support it?
People are used to hearing about climate change as a distant, global issue. This makes it super easy for politicians to avoid getting specific by trotting out their party’s manifesto line. If you kick off by asking your candidate about what’s happening in your area, and how they’re going to support it, it makes it harder for them to duck the question.
This might be a good opportunity to ask them about community energy in your area too. While lots of people are eager to generate their own energy, our system makes it really difficult. How will your candidate work to change this?
2. Will you pledge to switch to LED street lights?
Low energy LED street lights cut carbon, save money and make people feel safer. Yet only 20% of street lights in the UK are LED. Find out if your neighbourhood has gone LED here. If your council is still in the dark about cheap, clean LED streetlights, then ask them to take our pledge! LED street lights use up to 70% less energy, if all UK street lights were switched, we'd save £200m every year and 600,000 tonnes of CO2. Read more about 10:10’s Lighten Up campaign here.
3. How will you back UK leadership in renewable energy?
The UK has huge potential for renewable energy - we’re one of the best places in the world for wind power! Renewables are giving us more and more of our electricity (now a third of energy generated in the UK!), and they’re getting cheaper every year. But we’re not fulfilling our potential. If we’re going to do something about climate change, it’s vital that politicians at a local level support more renewables across the UK. Right now, the government's blocking onshore wind, how will your local councillors work to unlock them?
4. How will you prevent energy waste?
The cheapest unit of energy is the one that doesn’t get used. To meet the climate challenge, the UK needs to move beyond energy waste and become more efficient. With some of the draftiest houses in northern Europe, this is a big challenge - but it’s one we must rise to, and we stand to save billions in the process. Local councils can lead on this in the form of supporting home insulation schemes.