Written by Taryn Everdeen (cohort 3) - BGF Alumni Network Content Creator
On the 30th June, five BGFers past and present joined The Climate Coalition’s #TheTimeIsNow Virtual Mass Lobby, hopping on Zoom calls with their MPs to discuss how the UK can make a green recovery from COVID-19.
Over the last few months, our whole world has changed dramatically. The transition hasn’t been easy, and this period of time has taken a massive toll on our collective mental health. We’ve been forced to rethink our travel, shopping, and food consumption habits, showing that it is possible to act - and act quickly - adapting to a whole new way of life.
As we start to emerge from this health crisis, we have the opportunity to build back better, investing in green jobs, infrastructure and a sustainable economy, ensuring that we don’t switch out one crisis for another.
We sent out emails to our MPs, inviting them to join us over Zoom to hear our concerns and encourage them to take action. After having attended two training sessions - one ran by BGF Alumni Network member Matthew, the other hosted by The Climate Coalition - we were armed with facts and confidence, ready to take on the politicians.
The results were mixed, but with the majority of MPs having a neutral or unsupportive stance towards climate change, this was to be expected.
Cohort 3 BGFer Matthew lobbied his MP Ruth Edwards about extending the government’s ‘led by science’ coronavirus approach to climate change, and stressed the golden opportunity the COVID-19 recovery plan offers for timely action. “My ‘ask’ was that she strongly and consistently lobbies cabinet ministers for a green recovery. Her response showed that she sees environmental protection as vital and she said she was “happy” to lobby for me.”
For Chris from cohort 2, the response was less positive, with their MP supporting airline bail-outs and housing development, and believing that the funding for active transport is already sufficient. “He claims to agree with the message of the CC's declaration, but he refuses to sign such petitions etc. to the government. He attempted to defend the government's continued massive investment in road building, seemingly believing that a transition to electric and hydrogen vehicles will have a sufficient, timely effect on emissions, despite my attempts to persuade him otherwise.”
Cohort 4 BGFer Nell was fortunate enough to have landed herself an opportunity following her call. “[My MP] said he’d like to get me involved in working on Wakefield’s environment policy — it would include research for the document and I could even write some sections which is very exciting."
Some MPs were harder to persuade than others, with their own personal and party interests a barrier to wanting to make room for concerns of environmentalists. Despite this, it’s really important to use your voice as a constituent. Reach out to your MP and tell them what you’re concerned about - be persistent and hold them to account.
The worldwide response to COVID-19 has demonstrated that, in the face of a crisis, it is possible to take urgent action and slam down on the brakes of production. We have the chance to be part of this change.
If you have any questions about how to get in touch with your MP, drop us a message (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll give you some tips and guidance on what to do next.
Check out our instagram to find out more about the BGF Alumni Network - https://www.instagram.com/bgfalumni/?hl=en