Jack Wakefield tells the story - Last October I took the daunting step to organise local people to meet our Member of Parliament, and quiz him on Climate Change. It was daunting because I had never met my MP before; my only communication with him was signing petitions or sending letters on behalf of charities and causes, so I had no idea how it would go.
But I was inspired by the Climate Coalition’s call to ‘Speak Up’ - and with the guidance of campaigns staff here in the UK I began the challenge.
Organising the event was so much easier than I expected, and I’d encourage anyone who’s thinking about it to give it a try! I simply emailed the MP’s office and pitched the idea, saying we wanted to give him a platform to explain what the government are doing and to offer the public a chance to ask questions and learn about the issues. My MP agreed to come, and a date was set - so I just needed to find a venue and then invite local people!
Thankfully my Church was receptive to the idea. I was able to stand up one Sunday and tell the story of Selina in Malawi, who has struggled to access enough food for her children due to extreme floods and droughts - which will only intensify as the impacts of climate change increase, and called on them to speak up for those who can’t speak out here themselves, and stand up for the oppressed.
Once the word got out through people at Church sharing with those around them, and a few local shops with posters and flyers, we were ready for the event.
When the day I arrived, we were very nervous - would anyone come? What would our MP say? Can we make any difference?
A few familiar faces from church arrived first, and then more people from the local area and across the constituency (the area our MP is responsible for). Many of them had campaigned before, written to our MP, and chosen to live differently to reduce their impact on the planet - but many were also coming to learn and to listen.
Many of the audience expressed their disappointment when our MP told us of his support for nuclear power, fracking and the growing meat industry, and they demanded stronger action to be taken. We were able to share stories of those already experiencing the effects of climate change as well as stories of hope from those working around the world to reduce it’s impact.
And as the afternoon went on, our MP was able to explain his hard work to improve the electric car infrastructure nationwide, as well as his research into local renewable energy projects and outspoken support of tidal energy projects. He explained the complexities of transitioning to a carbon-neutral energy system and why in the short term we might need fracking and other unpopular energy sources, but keeping focussed on the long-term carbon-neutral goal.
It was a fascinating afternoon, and many people followed up by writing to him about specific action they’d like to see happen. We were able to put pressure on government to ratify the Paris Agreement and since then other local events have been organised with other local MPs.
If you’re thinking about contacting your MP or government representative, meeting with them, or organising an event - go for it! We need to continue to make our voice heard and fight for the renewal of our world, for the sake of those already facing the consequences of our fossil fuel usage and consumption.