Three reasons climate change matters this election, and what you can do about it

It’s vital we talk about climate change in this election.

By the time the next one comes around, we’ll have used up our chance to keep warming below 1.5°C. So we can’t wait until then. We need to ensure that our politicians know we expect them to act on climate change now.

Over the next five years, three big things are going to determine how much we can step up the pace on climate action:

  1. If nothing changes, investment in renewables will fall by 95% by 2020. We cannot tackle climate change without expanding renewable energy - which means we need politicians to back it.

  2. Brexit will change the game for all areas of policy. Quite simply, everything is up in the air - and we need a government that will see us through with UK climate leadership intact.

  3. If we’re going to meet our legally binding carbon budgets in the next two decades we need plans and policies across all of society to make sure we get there. To take our carbon cutting up a gear, we need real political will.

The good news is we have many of the solutions, and thousands of us are already getting stuck into making them happen. Renewables are winning every day, all over the world. Like last year, when renewable energy gave us more than one fifth of global electricity. Or when wind produced more electricity for the UK than coal for the first time ever.

This is incredible stuff. But we need more of this action, and we need it faster - which means we need our politicians to step up to the challenge too.

So what can you do…?

+ Ask your candidates to back climate action

If you come face-to-face with one of your candidates over the next few weeks, 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 is still skewed in favour of big companies. How will your candidate work to change this?

2. 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 ( 40% last Christmas Day! ), 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 the next government supports more renewables across the UK.

3. 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 leakiest 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. Government leadership will be key to unlocking this potential in UK homes and businesses.

And if you’d like to know more about the different parties’ climate policies, check out Carbon Brief’s handy analysis .

+ Ask your friends to back climate action

If you don’t get a chance to talk to your candidates, don’t worry, because elections aren’t just about the politicians. A big national event like a general election is a really great time to talk to your family, friends, colleagues and anyone else who’s listening about what you value and what sort of future you want.

So, when you’re having the talk with someone about the candidates on offer this June, why not ask them if they’ve thought about climate change? Or if they know where their candidates stand on climate action?

But we get it. We’ve all had confusing, disappointing, frustrating or downright mind-boggling conversations about climate change. So if you want some tips on why your climate conversations keep going wrong, and how to make them better, we’ve got a great guide for you.