Three climate questions to ask politicians

Picture this, you love the climate (because, obviously, it is the basis of all life on earth) and you’re about the meet the enigmatic person spending your council tax. You know bringing up climate change in these encounters can reveal whose taking it seriously, and just as important, shows politicians that people (like yourself) see this as a priority. There you are, brimming with questions, queries, complaints and compliments. So many in fact your mouth turns to cotton and you bail, telling him or her to ‘keep up the good work!’ Later, you walk/cycle home seething in regret. You wish you had prepped something, anything or that there was some handy guide with suggested questions, maybe written by 10:10?

We thought you might think that. So if you’re about to organise a meeting with your MP, you want to arm yourself for chance meetings or have been invited to Number 10 for tea, here are three climate questions you could ask.

1. How is my village/town/city playing its part in tackling climate change?

People are used to hearing about climate change as a distant global issue, which makes it easy for politicians to be super vague about what they're actually going to do. Adding this local slant brings the issue into the here-and-now, and opens up a positive conversation about using local resources and skills to be part of the solution.

What to mention

  • Think of a couple of things your area does best, that could be useful in tackling climate change. Maybe you've got lots of rivers that'd be suited to hydropower, a top university for sustainability, or a bike-friendly flat landscape, for example.
  • See if you can find a couple of examples of similarly-sized places doing (and benefiting from) good stuff that's tailored to their  local context. Our It's Happening gallery has a whole bunch of climate success stories from villages, towns and cities all over the world.


2. What will you do to help people in this area generate their own clean energy?

Community-scale renewable energy is basically magic, but getting a project up and running so much harder than it needs to be. The energy market isn't set up to allow smaller players to get involved and central government haven’t made it any easier. The good news is that some communities are making waves working with local councils to generate clean energy. Could you work with your MP for something similar? Because MPs who are serious about local action on climate change should have this firmly on their radar.

What to mention

  • Community energy groups have sprung up all over the UK  in the last few years, but we could have loads more.
  • Germany does loads to support community owned renewables, and they're way ahead in their shift to clean energy.


3. How will you help make our homes more energy efficient?

Britain's houses are some of the least insulated in Europe, which means we waste loads of energy heating the air outside. If you're rich, that's pretty annoying – you get a giant carbon footprint and nothing to show for it. But if you're poor, it can be deadly. When people are having to choose between heating and eating, you know there's got to be a better way. The government's current policy isn't making much of a dent in the problem, so we need to urge them to roll up their sleeves and back something much more ambitious. 

What to mention

  • Cold homes cause about 25,000 premature deaths a year, which is about 25,000 more deaths than you want.
  • The government planned to end fuel poverty by 2015. However, in 2015 the government actually scrapped various efficiency initiatives including the Green Deal and the Zero Carbon homes initiative. These days fuel poverty is pretty much under the radar. So check out the stats in your area and demand your MP takes action to end fuel poverty for good!