Meeting with Sheffield City Council

Two of the Hope for the Future team attended Sheffield City Council’s (SCC) latest council meeting which involved a discussion on ‘Responding to the Climate Emergency’. The webcast for the full debate upon this can be found here.

As part of the Authority to Act project, the Hope for the Future team have been researching local councils, with the aim of helping campaigners and residents to productively engage with their local councillors upon addressing climate change within their region, in the wake of numerous local councils declaring climate emergencies. 

Zoe asking a question about meeting carbon budgets at the City Council Meeting

Zoe asking a question about meeting carbon budgets at the City Council Meeting

Lots of members of the public attended the council meeting, and there were numerous pertinent questions asked to the council by campaigners from Friends of the Earth and Sheffield Climate Alliance. For example, one question asked what the council’s plan was surrounding home insulation, since this is a way to significantly reduce energy demand while tackling fuel poverty. Another campaigners pointed out that transport accounts for 25% of the U.K’s total emissions, and asked what the council planned to do regarding reducing emissions from transport in Sheffield. Two members of Hope for the Future also asked the council questions, links to the two questions that we asked can be found here and here.

Two researchers from the Tyndall Centre, which is a trans-disciplinary institute doing research into climate change mitigation strategies, presented the report they have written for Sheffield on setting climate change commitments in line with the Paris Agreement. The Tyndall Centre researchers outlined how they had formulated a carbon budget for Sheffield for 2020-2100, which is 16 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, based upon remaining in line with the Paris Agreement. They set 2038 as an absolute end date for Sheffield to reach net zero emissions, and argued that Sheffield should implement an immediate programme of CO2 mitigation, to deliver cuts in emissions averaging 14% per year.

It is important that SCC communicates about the climate emergency and about SCC’s plan for how to tackle this to the public, and engages residents in the process of developing their carbon reduction strategy, in order for people to support measures in line with this. It would be helpful if SCC communicate the information provided by the Tyndall Centre on Sheffield’s responsibilities towards meeting the Paris Agreement in a simple, digestible form to local residents.

If you’d like help working with your local council, please get in touch with our Local Councils Coordinator Julia

The Time is Now Mass Lobby of Parliament

Hope for the Future trustee, Margaret Ainger, reports back on the UK’s biggest ever climate lobby of Parliament.


On Wednesday I attended the biggest mass lobby of MPs ever seen in the UK. 12,000 people arrived in Westminster on a beautiful June afternoon to meet our MPs in the open air next to the Houses of Parliament. Over 300 MPs took the time to come out from their offices and meet us, their constituents, and hear our concerns about Climate Change. So many groups had members there – the National Trust, Green Alliance, The W.I., CAFOD, Christian Aid, the RSPB, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, WWF etc. - but most people appeared to be just individuals, couples and friends. Ordinary people wanting climate action.

Hope for the Future were there of course. Jo Musker Sherwood led 2 training workshops in the morning to prepare people for the lobby. It was my first opportunity to experience the training. The folk who signed up were savvy and politically aware but I could see that, like me, they were rather taken aback at learning what effective lobbying entails and the amount of research and preparation you need to do if you want to come out with tangible actions agreed, and not just a nice chat. I can see that there is enormous scope to extend the reach of our training and to constantly fine tune it to the changing climate context.

There was a holiday atmosphere to the Walk of Witness, the banners, bright colours, stalls and speakers but our underlying message was clear. We need to act now to save the planet. Can we not all sign up to act on that?

If you would like to know more about Hope for the Future’s lobbying training and how you can access our resources, get in touch with us at

Webinar with the Green Alliance’s head of policy Dustin Benton

Last Monday Hope For The Future held its second ever webinar - and the last of our webinars which are part of our free trial period. We were joined by the Green Alliance’s head of policy Dustin Benton to talk about the Government’s Net Zero target. Since our previous webinar two weeks before, Theresa May announced that she would be putting down an amendment to the Climate Change 2008 to bind the Government to eliminating the UK’s carbon footprint by 2050. Consequently, we chose to question Dustin on the specifics of what the MPs and councillors should be doing  to keep the UK on track to reach this target, and what constituents and activists can do to keep the pressure on. You will find the answers below.

The webinar focused on the Green Alliance’s Acting on Net Zero Now report which you can find here

1)      Could you summarise for us again what policies would help us move more rapidly to Net Zero?

Five policies would get the UK on track (in 2030) to net zero (by 2050): a ban on sales of new petrol, diesel, and non-plug in hybrid vehicles in 2030; an industrial resource efficiency strategy; a big domestic energy efficiency retrofit programme; a plan to grow new forests, restore peatlands, and help farmers store carbon in their soils; and a reversal of the de-facto ban on onshore wind and solar power.

  2)      There is increasing concern about the impact electric vehicles have on the environment. Particularly the energy use, social impact and damage in other countries in order for us to meet low carbon goals. We need to make sure policy and engineering is tied together- how are you analysing the engineering required behind these ideas?

Electric vehicles are not a panacea, but they are a big part of the solution. They dramatically lower carbon emissions, noise and air pollution, but do nothing to address urban congestion. They also require materials (notably cobalt) which are often unsustainably mined. To address this, our research has shown that the UK could source about half its demand for cobalt from recycling by 2035 (, and we could keep vehicles for longer, which reduces the amount of materials we need to mine. Their energy impacts are much lower than fossil cars, but they will still require new electricity generation: the good news is that their batteries can help firm the grid. By 2030, the UK could have twice the energy storage in EV batteries than all the pumped hydro in the alps (a key component of the continent’s energy system) (see

 3)      How does the report address shipping and aviation as they are not addressed in the 2008 Climate Change Act?

It doesn’t. We support the CCC’s recommendation that these are included in the UK’s domestic carbon budgets, and are doing some work now on pathways to 1.5c compatible aviation.

  4)      How do we encourage local councils to stop building so many roads?

For better or worse, I think the most effective tactic at local level is peaceful protest. The evidence against roadbuilding is pretty solid: more roads creates more traffic demand, and with the real cost of motoring falling (due to a freeze in fuel duty), this is less a case of lack of evidence and instead an example of government doing something it has always done without very much reflection on how roads often wreck places.

 5)      Does Net Zero 2050 legislation included Green Houses Gases imbedded in imported goods?

It doesn’t – the law just covers territorial emissions. Our work on this suggests that resource efficiency in industrial products would save 2-3 times as much emissions overseas (arising from our consumption) as it saves in territorial emissions (those generated in the UK). Much more detail on this issue is available here:

  6)      What do you think of a government requirement for ministerial cars to be electric ?

Yes please! It is symbolic (there are only 85 ministerial cars), but a useful symbol.

  7)      What are the current governments incentives for domestic implementation e.g. of heat pumps and solar etc.

These are implemented via the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) which is due to run out in 2020, and the Energy Company Oblivation (ECO) scheme, which supported around 90% less insulation than its predecessor scheme. The government cancelled its support for solar panels earlier this year. All in all, government incentives for domestic change are in steep decline, and are in any case inadequate.

Byron Wood Academy Workshop

Sarah Dailly

Sarah Dailly

Sarah Dailly is a French student currently studying politics and international relations at the University of Sheffield. She started volunteering for  HFTF very recently and is mainly involved in the schools workshops. For her first day, she participated in a primary school workshop in Sheffield and had the pleasure to meet the MP Gill Furniss. She wrote about her experience below.  

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to get involved in a school workshop at Byron Wood Primary Academy in Sheffield. Prior to the workshop, engaging 30 eight-year-old pupils about climate change and its consequences did not seem to be an easy task. How would it be possible to engage an audience that young? At first, I thought that a two-and-a-half-hour workshop would be too long for the children and that they would get bored easily, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that they were truly enjoying the session.

The workshop was divided into two parts: firstly, activities related to climate change, secondly, focusing on the role of the Member of Parliament Gill Furniss and the environment.

We started with a quiz about the environment to give the children a deeper knowledge on the issue of climate change, whilst still having a good time and the children were certainly very happy to get involved! The team created a game with the aim of educating the children on the British political system, through this the pupils became aware of the role of their local MP in dealing with environmental challenges. To finish the first part of the workshop, the students made posters, drawing what they loved about the planet and how to protect it.

In the second half, we had the pleasure of being joined by Gill Furniss, MP for Brightside and Hillsborough, who listened to the students' poster presentations. Gill then talked about her role as an MP, asking the children what they thought she should do about current threats to the environment. It was positive and surprising to see how involved the children became, proposing lots of great ideas and questions. We ended the session with a quiz to calculate Gill's personal carbon footprint, another great way to demonstrate how climate change works. It was brilliant to collaborate with an MP who cares about the environment and I think this was important in that it demonstrated to the children how politicians could have an impact on climate change.

The workshop was a very exciting time for me, it was interesting to work with students who were fully engaged and enthusiastic about being involved in activities. The team had to make our explanations concerning climate change and politics simple and adapt our speech to make it easier for the children to understand, which was a very good experience for us.

I am very happy that we helped the children to learn about the link between the environment and politics and how individual choices can impact the environment. Gill provided a good example for the students because she clearly cared about the environment, really listening to what the students had to say, which created a positive atmosphere. I think it was important to have the involvement of an MP who is concerned by the issue of climate change because children are easily influenced by authority figures at this age. 

The workshop was a success for us: in addition to the work we did with the students and the MP to promote the protection of the planet, the headteacher Mrs Wood said that she will do something about the schools plastic waste by promoting reusable bottles and ending the sale of plastic bottles within the school! 

The schools workshop shows that by sharing our ideas and connecting people, we can all work together to protect the planet.

Climate Communications Blog Series

Blog 5: Discussing Your Individual Choices

Briony Latter, 10th May 2019

Briony Latter square.jpg

This blog series explores different aspects of climate change communication. Talking to people about climate change and trying to engage them with the subject involves more than simply getting your facts straight. It’s really important to think about who your audience is and how you talk to people. In this fifth post we explore how to discuss individual action on climate change and the difficulties that can arise when doing so.

How to talk about people’s individual decisions in response to climate change without making them feel guilty is a topic that came up in a recent Hope for the Future training session. There are many areas that could be discussed here, including the decision of some people not to have children due to climate change, but I will focus on food and travel.

Credit:  Gabriel Gurrola


Our diet can have an impact on climate change, and meat consumption, particularly beef, needs to be reduced. Vegetarian and vegan food is becoming more widespread and a record amount of people signed up to Veganuary for 2019. The BBC have even published a handy food calculator to show the impact of your diet on climate change.

If you’re already vegan or vegetarian, that’s great, but when you’re talking to someone about the potential impact of their diet on the climate, it’s important to understand different people’s circumstances. They may have dietary requirements that could restrict their ability to eat certain foods. For example, as someone with a severe nut allergy, a vegan diet is just not realistic for me. However, almost all of my diet is vegetarian and I ensure that any meat or fish I do eat is sustainable. When talking to people about reducing their meat consumption, Hubbub’s Protein Pressures project may be able to help. They recommend that future communications on this issue should be “positive, upbeat and focus on what is gained by diversifying protein, not what is given up” and should provide information about alternatives.


Credit:  dsleeter_2000

There are a number of difficulties and contradictions when thinking about different modes of transport in relation to climate change. Cars can sometimes be essential for people to travel depending on where they live, particularly with the decrease in bus routes. Try to understand the other person’s situation and identify other things they could do instead if they are reliant on their car. For example, you could discuss car sharing or buying a more environmentally friendly car.

Flying can also be a difficult topic to discuss. Would you count flying as luxury emissions, or does it depend on why and how far away you’re going? What about if you’re visiting family or traveling for work? Is it okay to fly if you’re traveling somewhere to raise awareness of climate change? This contradiction can be demonstrated by a couple of recent examples. The Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt recently visited Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya in only 5 days whilst at the same time promoting the UK’s role in tackling climate change. Also, back in January there was a huge amount of individual private flights for leaders attending climate talks at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Some argue that individual action in this area is key, but there is also the argument that individual action will have a limited impact unless “the economic system can provide viable, environmental options for everyone – not just an affluent or intrepid few.”

This is a complicated area and, again, people will have different circumstances so it’s good to be aware that not everyone you talk to will be able to take the same action that you can. However, you could discuss carbon offsetting, using a carbon calculator to look at the emissions for different travel options or simply reducing the amount that you fly rather than stopping altogether.

There are no absolute right or wrong answers for the above. It’s also important to remember that individual choices are just one part of tackling climate change. Change has to come from other places including government. You may feel able to talk to friends, family and acquaintances about their individual choices, but what about your MP? Even if you know that your MP doesn’t have the most environmentally friendly behaviours as an individual, don’t forget that they have the power to make changes in a different way as your locally elected representative. That’s where we can help. Our team can help you to work with your MP and develop a tailored strategy for them. Have a look at our resources for more information.

Hope for the Future Case Study

Steve Baker MP

Steve Baker MP

We recently supported Jo, a constituent of Steve Baker MP, to meet with him about climate change. Mr Baker has very different views to the constituent, as a hard brexiteer and climate-sceptic. In the meeting it was clear that Steve felt negative about encounters with climate campaigners because of the reaction he receives when expressing his sceptisism of the science. Jo was able to listen to his doubts and show him how making progress to reducing emissions was not necessarily counter to his own agenda. Using questions is a powerful tool to discover the interests, needs, anxieties and desires behind someone’s position. Read Jo’s blog on her meeting with Steve Baker.

What to do when you don't agree with your MP

What can you do when you feel you have no common ground with your MP? Hope for the Future supported Wycombe constituent, Jo Howard, to meet with her MP Steve Baker. There didn’t seem to be much common ground between the two. But through an understanding of Steve’s core values, Jo managed to have a constructive conversation with him. Jo writes about her experience with the reminder to not be discouraged if you can’t find the common ground…

My first encounter with Steven Baker MP was in 2016, as part of a group of local constituents at the Climate Coalition mass lobby of Parliament that June.  I knew from that event that climate change was not a subject of particular interest to him.  Nevertheless, as someone concerned about the effects of climate change, I wanted to find a way to continue to engage with my MP on the issue in a meaningful way. Brexit has long been the top issue on Mr Baker’s agenda, so after the 2016 referendum result, I felt discouraged about trying to secure his interest in a subject which was of low priority for him.

Find Hope for the Future resources  here .

Find Hope for the Future resources here.

A chance encounter with Hope for the Future at the Greenbelt Festival in 2017 gave me the encouragement to persist. I sought help in how to frame a constructive dialogue with my MP when I knew we would have little in the way of shared concerns. Hope for the Future resources and an encouraging conversation with Sarah Robinson helped me to see that I might find common ground with Mr Baker in areas such as transport policy, green technology and potential opportunities for the UK to take a lead on environmental issues post-Brexit. The Hope for the Future website was a really helpful resource for further reading and for learning about recent research and developments in these areas.

I had an encouraging response to an initial letter to Mr Baker in early 2018, although little in the way of concrete action. A further letter did not elicit any response, but I managed to secure a meeting with him in February 2019. The constituency office had asked me to email beforehand with details on what I wanted to discuss and links to any supporting documents. I decided to focus on transport and specifically to ask for Mr Baker’s support for an upcoming Private Members’ Bill on standardisation of electric vehicle charging points. This is an issue that is important to me as a constituent who would like their next car to be electric.

I was realistic about the level of enthusiasm I was likely to encounter in Mr Baker but was determined to be as constructive as possible and avoid being side-tracked into disputing areas we were never going to agree on. On the whole I felt that the meeting went well, given the limitations of our differing perspectives. Mr Baker made it clear that he was not enthusiastic about the climate change cause and didn’t want me to have unrealistic expectations about the action he would be willing to take. We did however have an interesting and, I felt, respectful conversation.  Mr Baker was able to agree that if electric vehicles were increasing in number it was important to have an efficient infrastructure in place. As someone with an engineering background he understood the need for sensible solutions to practical problems, even when he was not enthusiastic about the wider cause. Mr Baker agreed to speak to Bill Wiggin MP, who had introduced the Private Members’ Bill and asked his caseworker to follow up on information I had mentioned about targets for transition to electric vehicles in other countries.

A meeting with someone where there is little common ground is never going to be easy. If I hadn’t encountered Hope for the Future, I would either have been discouraged from asking for a meeting with my MP at all, or approached it with a confrontational mindset which would have been counter-productive for all. As it was, we were able to find a limited area in which we could engage constructively. I will continue to look for areas in which there might be shared interest in the future.

If you would like support in engaging your MP or councillors on climate change, contact us.

Climate Communications Blog Series

Blog 4: Hopeful or Fearful for the Future?

Briony Latter, 28th February 2019

Briony Latter square.jpg

This blog series explores different aspects of climate change communication. Talking to people about climate change and trying to engage them with the subject involves more than simply getting your facts straight. It’s really important to think about who your audience is and how you talk to people. In this fourth post we consider the impacts of communicating about climate change in a hopeful way as opposed to a more scary and fearful way.

If you are someone who is concerned about climate change and interested in raising your local MP’s awareness, it could be easy to overwhelm them with fearful information about the negative impacts of climate change. It might also be easy to blame them for inaction. However, it is important to be aware of the impact of how you talk about climate change. As noted on our difficult conversations page, former MP for Harborough, Sir Edward Garnier, suggests that “an attitude that puts the blame with those you are trying to work with is not conducive to constructive problem-solving.”

In the second blog in this series, we spoke about research which showed that fear can make people take notice of climate change, but that it tends to be unsuccessful for engaging people with the subject in a meaningful way. Although this doesn’t mean that you should ignore the real, often scary impacts of climate change, it is important to bear in mind that you are also trying to get your MP to take action and therefore there must be hope of success in tackling climate change.

Jo and colleague, Chris, at Greenbelt Festival.

Jo and colleague, Chris, at Greenbelt Festival.

With the unseasonably warm February we’ve been having it’s easy to feel concerned about the impacts of climate change on our weather, but it’s important not to let that reduce our motivation to take action and have hope that we can still make a difference. Our Director, Jo Musker-Sherwood, shares what the name Hope for the Future means for the organisation and why the decision was made to have such a positive name…

“Hope, for us at Hope for the Future, is what enables us to keep working for change, despite an uncertain and potentially very bleak future. We draw hope from the actions of young people today, from previous successful endeavours such as the civil rights movements, and from a belief that by believing the best in humankind, we will bring out the best in people as we attempt to bring about change. Hope must not be used as a cover to continue with ‘business as usual’ but must instead grow the kind of resilience within us that we will need for the long road ahead.”
— Jo Musker-Sherwood, Hope for the Future Director

Susanne Moser notes that “researchers are increasingly interested in the role of hope, optimism, and positive emotions in climate communication”. In contrast to this, Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who has hit news headlines in recent months for her school climate strikes, talks about climate change in a way that clearly emphasises how scary and urgent it is. At this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, she made a speech which included a number of fearful messages:

“We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people.”
“Solving the climate crisis is the greatest and most complex challenge that Homo sapiens have ever faced.”
“I want you to panic.”
“I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”
— Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg is continuing to gain a lot of media attention and her school strike has inspired and mobilised thousands of other students from around the world to hold their own school strikes, indicating that this is really resonating with some people, enough for them to take action themselves. The school strikes have been lauded as incredibly hopeful by Bill McKibben and George Monbiot.

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer about whether positive, hopeful messaging or more fearful messaging is more effective. As Josh Ettinger says in his guest blog for climate communications organisation Climate Outreach, “different people respond…well, differently.” We would suggest that you never solely rely on instilling fear in your message, you should always inject a little bit of hope.

What we do know is that “actions and practical support must be a central part of all climate communication”. This is important to consider as communication with your MP will include choosing your ‘ask’. Each MP will require a different approach to get the best out of your relationship with them and we can offer 1:1 tailored advice for working with your MP. Whether hopeful or fearful, or a mix of both, your approach needs to be tailored, based on an understanding of your MP and their perspective and with a clear idea of what you want your MP to do.

Hope for the Future Case Study


Guto Bebb was wary when his constituent, Laura booked a meeting with him about climate change. The last constituent who had arranged a meeting about climate change had brought 20 or so friends with them and ended up with them all shouting at Mr Bebb in his office. His PA was careful to make sure exactly who was attending and asking for an agenda prior to the meeting. Laura, accompanied by Jo from Hope for the Future, went into the meeting with the intention of building a relationship and encouraging Guto to see the positive outcomes acting on climate change could bring about. Guto went on to deliver a workshop on climate change in a local school as a constructive action he could take. He also recently released a video with Laura on why their meeting helped him to see how important action on climate change is.

#ShowTheLove for Cornwall!

Show the Love for Cornwall!


Every Valentines Day, the Climate Coalition encourage everyone to ‘Show the Love’ for the planet and those things we hold dearest that will be effected by climate change. Last Friday, on 15th February, Hope for the Future was in Threemilestone to Show the Love for Cornwall! To coincide with the New Seasonal Survey for Cornwall, we held event with the Cornwall Federation of Women’s Institutes (CFWI). Over 55 CFWI members from across Cornwall were able to attend alongside Derek Thomas MP and speakers from the RSPB, the Woodland Trust and the University of Exeter. 

The panel discussion, chaired by HFTF’s Sarah Robinson, also aligned with the youth climate strikes taking place across the United Kingdom. Pippa Stilwell, event organiser and member of the CFWI said “It felt very poignant that 400 children and young peoplehad gathered at County Hall for the Youth4Climate rally on the morning of our event, and also that there was an Extinction Rebellion meeting in St Just that same evening.  There seems to be a new urgency out there”. This urgency was made clear in the afternoon’s opening presentation from the RSPB. Local warden, Jenny Parker and conservation Officer Paul St Pierre gave an overview of the effects that climate change is already having on Cornwall’s wildlife and habitats. Seasonal changes are already effecting the natural flood chain which mean that for many species their food is appearing at the wrong time. This change in temperature will also mean some birds and insects are forced to relocate as they try to find new habitats with climatic conditions more suited to their needs. 1 in 6 species could face extinctionas suitable alternatives are not always available.

Catherine Brabner-Evans from the Woodland Trust also echoed this urgency. She confirmed researchers have found that warmer springs are creating a mismatch in food chains, with spring now arriving11 days earlieron average than in the 19thcentury. Following the hottest winter day since records began (21 degrees!) its not surprising to hear that changes are already happening in Cornwall and elsewhere in the UK. Catherine told the audience, and the wider public, how they can get involved and contribute to vital databases held by the Woodland Trust; including Nature’s Calendar and Observatree.

To limit the changes we are seeing, emissions need to decline rapidly across all of the main sectors in society. This includes buildings, industry, transport, energy, and agriculture, forestry and other land use. Cornwall benefits from a wealth of low carbon resources through solar and wind energy. However, the potential for this growth is limited by the current grid system which presents a huge challenge for renewable energy for the county.  Dr Iain Souter from the University of Exeter suggested that the only way to tackle this problem is through more collaborative innovation. This requires bottom up demand and strong political leadership in order to act quickly and avoid the UK missing out on the transition to a low carbon economy. 

On this note, Derek Thomas encouraged the audience “not to think of Cornwall as the end of the line, but the start of something”. Derek highlighted that the afternoon’s event also fell on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day. reported by the Independent in July 2018 indicate that fuel poverty has been steadily increasing between 2009 and 2012, affecting more than 1 in 10 houses in the UK. The high cost of fuel is exacerbated by the UK’s current stock of poorly insulated and energy in-efficient housing. Cornwall is committed to becoming carbon neutral and Derek suggested that households would be the best place to start. George Osborne committed £1 billion for infrastructure improvement and Derek would advocate for this to be largely spent on homes. 

Reflecting on the panel discussion, Pippa concluded: “It is clear from the speakers that we need to identify the best ways to tackle climate change and to act quickly.  But it has to be the best action to take, and for that we need many, many conversations at grassroots level, meaning that all of us need to be well informed about the issues and the different interests involved. We all need to share in these conversations”. Jenny and Paul from the RSPB called upon Derek Thomas and other MPs to: Protect our environmental legislation and ensure ministerial accountability post Brexit. They also urged everyone to sign upto the net zero emissions campaign and get others to join up too. 

If you want to learn more about the net zero emissions campaign then please get in touch with us at For more information about getting involved with Nature’s calendar, Observatree or any other Woodland Trusts citizen science project then visit: