Perspectives and examples of how to engage with politicians on climate action

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The effects of climate change will affect us all, but political responses to its impacts are varied. Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are at the heart of our path towards adapting to climate change impacts – they allow governments to communicate internationally on measures taken to respond to climate change in nation-based contexts. Realising the significance of NDCs is a significant way for faith-based organisations to engage with politicians on climate action at the national and global scale. Faith-based organisations must take steps to engage with politicians by working towards targets, policies and measures associated with NDCs.

There are various ways we can engage with politicians on such matters. One major strategy is identifying champions of change and working with them. Whether it be grassroot voices applying pressure on governments or raising political awareness on individual experiences, there is opportunity to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change targets. By supporting the work these agents do, we can help empower them and build their capacity as agents of change. For example, civil society organisations (CSOs) challenged the government of the Philippines to increase NDC targets to 75% after they decreased figures from 70% to 34%. This increased pressure on the government and ensured they were held accountable for the pledges they had made whilst highlighting the impact reduced targets would have on vulnerable communities via evidence-based examples.

Providing examples of the effects of climate change and the changes we want to see is an important way to engage politicians with climate change talks and ensure we are taken seriously. Providing examples of both positive outcomes following climate action and negative consequence associated with the lack of, are really important for engaging politicians’ hearts and minds. For example, strikes led by Fight for the Future have received mass media attention and an ever-growing social movement by emphasising the central role of youths in climate change deliberations. As a result, such movements have had a massive national and global impact by capturing the attention of politicians and people all over the world. Given the risk future climate scenario projections pose for young people, ensuring their voices are at the centre of political discussion is of great importance. The National Council Youth Organisation is a group based in Sweden that allows young people to engage in politics. They have recently demanded transparency in relation to climate change by lobbying Swedish delegate meetings. Supporting, representing and encouraging youth organisations is an effective means to engage politicians in climate change discussions and ensure action.

In summary, there are many ways to engage with politicians and take action, including:

  1. Provide strong examples that will really speak to politicians;
  2. Team up with youth organisations to make sure the voices of young people are heard;
  3. Talk to politicians about things that matter to you at a local or national level, not just global, as these will also resonate with politicians and they may feel more able to take action.