As we emerge from the pandemic we don't want to go back to how things were, we want to build a better world, one that's powered by renewables, one that puts climate justice (and everything that comes with it) first. But for this change to happen, we need to make our voices heard by those in power.
One of the best ways you can do this is by writing a letter to your local politician - at a local, state, and national level. Writing to politicians who represent your area is powerful. They were elected by you, to represent the views of your electorate. What you care about is valuable to them because it determines whether or not you vote for them. When politicians receive lots of letters from their constituents about certain issues, they're compelled to act if they want to keep their position.
That's why it's so important that you bring your voice to the table (and encourage others to do the same!).
Now it may have been a long time since you've sat down to write a letter, it definitely has been for me. So I'll walk you through the challenges I faced and how I overcame them. One big thing to remember is that you don't need to be an expert to do this. You're a voter, and that's all that matters. But before I do that, I want to highlight how important it is to write a personal letter or email - the below post explains why, just click through using the arrows to see the explanation.
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From @jackcalifano on twitter, who used to manage email inboxes for a presidential campaign "I spent 8 months managing the email inbox of a Presidential campaign, so here's some advice on actually getting your email read and having the biggest impact: write your own email. If you send a form email, and only change the name, all that tells an org is that a petition exists. If the org or office is hostile, they can just set up a filter, based on the subject line or content, and send them all to the trash. If you send literally a 1 line email that uses your own words, the filter misses it! They have to read it. It takes up staff time. And it makes the demand feel *organic*, which is much scarier, and has an impact." _ In the past we've shared pre-written emails that are calls to action for justice, but with this new information we felt compelled to let our community know that their voices can be heard in a more impactful way by making some slight changes. 1. A subject line that is written by you 2. An email that can be entirely written or partially by you 3. Including stories or incidents to make your representatives more aware of what's actually happening. #BlackLivesMatter
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Before writing your letter, you'll need to find out who your local elected representative is and get their contact details. (You can get them here if you're in Australia, here in the US and here in the UK).
Show them that your voice is important
You want to express to your local member that you are an important voter in their electorate. For me that means two things - one, I am young and am part of a community of voters with similar opinions. Two, I plan to live and vote here into the next election and I will make a difference on whether or not they get voted in again.
Here is where the power of the masses comes into play. The more people you can encourage to write, the more voices there are supporting the things that are important to you.
Tell them what's important to you
We have an opportunity to rebuild our society into a cleaner, greener economy that is fuelled by renewable industries. Explain in your letter why building a clean, green, just economy is particularly important to you and the society you want to live in. If you need some inspiration envisaging this future read this, this, this, this and this.
Write about the issue, including a few facts and figures
Now that you have established your personal connection to the issue, it's important to strengthen your argument with some facts and figures. This will let your elected representative know that this is not just a matter of opinion, but that there is clear evidence and experts that support the real possibility of building back better and have sketched out plans. Have a look at this for some ideas.
Tell your elected representative what you'd like to see them do about it
Here are some starting ideas (there are lots more you may want to include) of actionable tasks you could include in your letter and links out to more info on each point:
- Justice for Indigenous peoples- centre Indigenous leaders and peoples in climate and land policy decisions.
- Investment in environmental justice solutions - incorporate investment and solutions to address minorities and communities who are most at risk to the impacts of climate damage, pollution and its causes.
- Natural carbon drawdown solutions - programs for tree planting, revegetation, regenerative agriculture, seaweed generation and coastal wetland ("blue") carbon to rapidly drawdown emissions.
- Shift to a zero-waste circular economy - create jobs in industries that support the recycling of materials into new products, boost closed loop productions.
- Support low emissions, sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty - Reduce emissions from livestock and retain soil carbon. This will create opportunities for agricultural jobs and make our food supplies more resilient.
- Clean energy and energy democracy - creating an energy network that is community led and renewable, and investing in clean energy like solar and wind (the most effective type of renewable energy will change depending on your country so have a little research if you're not already across what best suits your area).
You can also take a look at these 5 principles for a Just Recovery for more ideas.
Let them know you look forward to receiving a reply on what will be done
Sign off with Sincerely, (your name, printed) and your signature. Then wait to hear back, but don't wait too long. Follow up with a phone call or an email if you haven't heard back within a month.
Here is an example of a letter written by Australian Parents for Climate Action, that can give you some inspiration to get writing. But remember, a letter that is personal to your experience and vision for a green recovery will be all the more powerful.
And if you're wondering about format, we have an example here.
By Madeleine Achenza
Madeleine is currently studying journalism at the University of Technology Sydney. She is hoping to start her career in environmental communication with a focus on bringing communities together despite their differences to preserve the beauty of our natural world.