Communicating on climate effectively is one of the best ways to keep climate action where it should be - at the front of everyone's minds. Here are some tips to add to your Communications Toolkit.
- Write to your MP
- Call your MP
- Meet your MP
- Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper
- Tips for talking about climate change
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Communicating your concerns and priorities directly to your MP is one of the most effective ways to keep climate action where it should be - at the top of our politicians’ agendas. They know that for every email, phone call or letter they receive from a concerned voter, there are likely many more voters who feel the same way. This keeps particular issues in discussion and ultimately affects their decision making.
Step 1: Who do I want to write to?
- To find out who your local MP is, search here. If you prefer, you can write a letter to your state’s senators, or the Ministers for Resources, Agriculture, Energy, and Environment.
Step 2: How do I contact them?
- Once you know who you want to contact, search their name on Google or Ecosia. Look for their website and they should have an obvious method to contact them. Some MPs give an email address or some MPs have a contact form on their site.
Step 3: What do I say?
- Now you have a name and an email address/contact form, all you need is to figure out what to say!
- You don’t have to be an expert - speak from your personal experience. Explain why climate action is important to you
- Keep it short (under a page) and focus on one issue
- Include a request - some action you would like the MP to take on the issue
- Don’t spend too long on it - quality is important, but we know that quantity is especially important. The more letters the MP gets calling for climate action, the more seriously they will take it
- Letter writing can be particularly fun as a joint activity, why not organise a group to write letters over some wine and cheese?
- Remember to include your MPs name, electorate and your own name.
- Plan ahead: research what your MP's position is on climate change. Prepare your key messages and your request in advance.
- Introduce yourself: “Hi my name is Emma, I live in this electorate and I wanted to talk to my MP ____ about climate action”
- Sometimes you will be able to talk to your MP or another staffer, at other times you won’t be able to. Either way, your call will be counted and contribute to feedback to the MP of the issues that their electorate cares about
- Stay on message - keep returning to your key points
- Leave them with a request: eg “I would like you to support the introduction of the climate change bill to parliament”
- Always be polite and respectful
- After the call, consider sending the MP an email to thank them for the call, reiterate your main points, as well as any other relevant links or articles you wanted to share with them.
Sometimes the most lasting impact we can have on an MP’s views is through a face-to-face conversation. They are, after all, people too! One of our members recently spent over an hour discussing climate action with their local MP, a conversation they’re sure to remember when it comes to discussing it in parliament.
Here are some tips to organising a meeting with your MPs:
Step 1: Write an email or letter
- Include details on who you are, why you would like to have a meeting and what you’re hoping to discuss. Note any roles that you have in the community or other people you represent.
- Give a range of dates that you would like to have a meeting in - keeping in mind that politician’s schedules are very busy and it might not be possible for weeks to months.
Step 2: Follow up
- Follow up your email or letter with a phone call, to make sure it hasn’t been missed. You can repeat your request for a meeting and discuss availability. Remember to confirm how long the meeting is scheduled for to guide your preparations.
Step 3: Plan the agenda
- Start by introducing yourself, share your story and why climate action matters personally to you. Give time for each person in the meeting to share why climate action matters.
- Do your research beforehand - know what action the MP may already have taken or statements they may have made on climate action and congratulate them on it.
- Share the extent of the community you represent, the interactions you have with the community and what your group is up to.
- Share the broader context - why climate action matters to the veterinary profession and the animals we represent.
- Prepare and understand the demands we are asking of our MPs - broad reaching climate action. Feel free to get in touch with us prior to the meeting for help in this area.
- Put your request to your MP - whether it is supporting a new bill, committing to ambitious targets or speaking out in support of climate action.
- Listen and take notes of what your MP says. It can be useful to have these to refer back to after the discussion, and to fact-check against their party policy later.
Step 4: Keep in contact!
- After the meeting, send another email or letter thanking the MP for their time and touching on what you discussed and the commitments they may have made. You can send them any further resources you might have discussed in the meeting.
- Now that you have met them in person and they have a face to the name, your communication on issues that matter to you will be more meaningful. It is great to keep the contact going, and maybe organise another meeting down the track.
Writing a letter to your local paper can be a very effective way to engage your community and can keep climate action on the agenda in your local area. Here are some tips:
- Open with a greeting, including the editor’s name if you know it
- Start with an engaging first line! You want your letter to be easy to read and interesting to the reader
- If you are referencing or replying to a previous article, cite its title and date
- Make a convincing case and try to back up your facts with solid evidence - if you have examples that are local to the region you are in use these
- Keep it short - under 250 words
- Make a call to action - write what you want to happen
- Sign off with your name and contact details - these may be used to verify your identity before publishing.
Despite the scale of climate change, we tend to avoid talking about it enough with our friends and family. There are many reasons for this - sometimes we assume we already know their opinion, or for some the problem may feel insurmountable at an individual level, or sometimes we’re just too busy to start the conversation. Regardless, this is a silence we need to break. We need to openly discuss climate action, our community expectations and we need to change the narrative around climate change and what we can do in Australia - starting now.
Here are ten tips to having productive and positive conversations around climate action with the people we have the most power to influence - our friends, family and colleagues.
- Share your climate story. Why it matters to you. Use your personal experience, or that of our veterinary profession.
- Frame the climate crisis in terms of health, wellbeing, livelihood. The research shows that appealing to people’s core values and humanity and the impact of the climate crisis is more effective than focusing on talking about the environment.
- Share a vision of a better future. Innovative climate solutions and a positive message of what the future could look like (job production, improved health etc) can reach people who generally switch off with negative messaging.
- Empower your audience. Turn the vague ideas in to do-able actions that others can take. Switching their super to one that doesn't invest in fossil fuels, switching their energy provider to one that uses renewables, or perhaps encouraging political engagement.
- More stories, less facts. We’ve all heard enough facts, it’s stories that really count. Do you have a story of how climate change is affecting your area or the animals in it? Or maybe how climate solutions are helping your local community?
- Be prepared to myth-bust! Check out some Australia-specific myth busting facts here
- Highlight that concern around climate change is widespread. 72% of Australians rated climate change as the biggest problem for us personally in the Australia Talks National Survey (Jan 2020).
- Tailor your message to your audience. Try to put yourself in their shoes, think about what their concerns may be, and address them.
- Hit the right tone. Avoid very emotive language and dramatic tone, this can make people anxious and actually cause them to switch off. Instead, use a matter-of-fact, positive tone and language to talk about climate change.
- Be non-partisan and factual. We need to let go of the political ‘climate wars’ of the past and try to avoid framing policies or political parties as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Instead let's talk in terms of the action that needs to be taken. We need messaging and conversations that allow politicians to revise their policies in the face of this crisis and get all politicians to include climate action as a key part of their agenda.
Talking with kids? Check out this guide for parents from the Australian Psychological Society, with lots of tips and strategies to having effective and age-appropriate discussions with your kids about climate change.
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