What can meeting my MP really achieve? WI member Jill shares her inspiring story

"What I thought would be one day out of my life has become a very interesting permanent feature!"

Hope for the Future supporter and member of the Women's Institute, Jill Bruce, shares how, through working with her MP, she became a WI speaker on climate change. From being refused a meeting with her MP in London to now working together to put forward policy suggestions to the Government, Jill's story is certainly one of transformation. 

Jill and a fellow WI member at the 2016 mass lobby at Westminster.

Jill and a fellow WI member at the 2016 mass lobby at Westminster.

When National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI) invited us to the Climate Coalition rally in Westminster in the summer of 2015, I and 2 WI friends thought “it’s one day out of our lives, let’s go along”. We arrived at the rally to find just one other person from our constituency, Angela, a marine biologist. We soon became friends and decided to work together. Our MP, Bernard Jenkin, had agreed to meet us on the day but we were so far away from the Houses of Parliament, on Lambeth Bridge, he couldn’t reach us on the day, so we arranged to meet him at his surgery in Colchester later instead. That gave us time to plan our meeting. We asked Public Affairs at NFWI what we should ask for and they suggested a local issue, or ask for a public meeting. We couldn’t think of a local issue at the time, so decided to ask for a public meeting. At the rally we had been given lots of leaflets from many organisations, but the most useful was the questionnaire results from NFWI, showing that of 1,000 WI members, 74% were concerned about climate change, with most worried about flooding, the effects on wildlife, and what problems we are leaving for future generations. The other really useful resource we found that day was leaflets from the Royal Society, the most eminent scientists in the world on every topic, including climate change. I got more information from the Royal Society, read it all, and picked out a few points to raise with Bernard, and practiced what I would say with my friends till I was really familiar with it all. Our appointment went really well, Bernard was well informed, he had clearly been well briefed by his researcher, but my Royal Society brochure ensured I could easily answer all the points he raised, and he snatched the WI results from my hand; MPs really care how we vote! He shook our hands when we left saying “very good lobbying” and readily agreed to our request for a public meeting, suggesting speakers, a venue and a sponsor. He attended the public meeting we then organised staying for over 2 hours, chairing and speaking, and talking to all the delegates, only leaving to go to another large public meeting about a proposal to build another 24 thousand homes in our area.

Bernard Jenkin giving his response to the public meeting. 

Bernard Jenkin giving his response to the public meeting. 

We focused that meeting agenda on our constituency, Harwich and North Essex, so had a
speaker from Essex Wildlife Trust, another from the Environment agency for Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex as well as the Professor of Environment and Society at Essex University and an Energy and Environmental Engineer to talk about how buildings can be better built to save energy. We all learned a lot and made more useful contacts.

We had a follow up public meeting a year later, which Bernard chaired again, and a third for the Show the Love campaign in February 2017. Bernard was unable to attend on that occasion due to the death of his father, but he sent a supportive letter to be read at the meeting, and met us again afterwards, this time offering an introduction to his policy forum.

I am now working with his local policy forum on a fourth public meeting, which Bernard will chair again. The aim of the meeting is to have expert speakers on Energy, Transport, Housing and Food each put forward 2 or 3 sensible policies, and after questions and a panel discussion, for the audience to vote, using keypad voting, on their preferred policies. This output will be sent to No. 10's policy forum. We know that following this summer’s election result the Conservatives have realised they’ve lost touch with their electorate, this seems a great opportunity to tell them what we think they should be doing. The meeting will be held 6-8pm Friday 27th October, University of Essex, Colchester. If you would like to attend, look for it on Eventbrite!

Thanks to all I've learnt along the way, I’ve become a WI speaker on Climate Change, and had my first booking to speak to a local WI in August, and I already have another booking for next year, so what I thought would be “one day out of my life” has become a very interesting permanent feature!

Each time we’ve met our MP we’ve ensured we were well informed and had something new to tell him. He will always challenge what we say so we make sure of our facts, and practice what we will say. The vested interests in big business who want to keep us burning fossil fuels have very professional lobbyists who will research carefully and practice before they see our MPs, and they will keep on seeing them again and again, so we must do the same to counter their arguments.

Our MPs know that we are not being paid to see them, or to say what we say, that we are doing it all in our own time, at our own expense, because we care so much on this issue, and that is a
huge trump card for us, but we still need to keep on reminding them. Out of sight truly is out of mind, so we do try to do something for every Climate Coalition week of action, and Show the Love campaign, and knowing that others around the country are doing the same with their MPs at the same time makes us confident that we will push climate change higher in their priorities.

How green is the UK’s new blueprint for climate action? A response to the Government's Clean Growth Strategy.

October 12th saw the long-awaited publication of what began an emissions reduction plan, and has finally emerged as the government’s Clean Growth Strategy. This was intended to lay out a pathway to UK decarbonisation, showing how we will meet the legally binding targets central to the UK Climate Change Act. As such, the strategy is central to the UK’s contribution to global climate action.

Hope for the Future saw Claire Perry MP, Minister for Climate Change and Industry, give a talk at the launch of Vision10. 

Hope for the Future saw Claire Perry MP, Minister for Climate Change and Industry, give a talk at the launch of Vision10. 

Remarkably, it also appears to have pressed a reset button on UK climate policy. The strategy frames acting on climate change as a “huge” opportunity that opens doors to industrial leadership while providing social benefits - rather than as an economic burden. The result is an increase in ambition and enthusiasm, with over 50 policies and plans focussing on innovation, efficiency and technology. A foreword from the Prime Minister states “clean growth is not an option, but a duty”.

However it is significant that what began as a plan is now a strategy. While the tone and aspirations of the Clean Growth Strategy are exciting, it is light on detail. It is also starkly inadequate, leading the UK to miss its 2030 target of a 57% reduction in emissions by nearly 10%. Policy and implementation that builds on the plan will be critical to ramping up ambition and closing this gap. While the clean growth strategy should be welcomed as a genuinely exciting shift in the UK’s attitude to cutting emissions, there is no room to let up the pressure on politicians yet.

Click on the image to find a pdf of the Clean Growth Strategy.

Click on the image to find a pdf of the Clean Growth Strategy.

What are the winners in the Clean Growth Strategy?

Transport. While a commitment to end sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040 matches or lags behind other countries (e.g. France and the Netherlands), this is backed up by funding to reduce the upfront costs of electric vehicles, accelerate uptake of low emission public transport and to deliver “one of the best electric vehicle charging networks in the world”. There is also support for encouraging cycling and walking.

Energy efficiency. This is an important arena for cutting UK emissions while simultaneously tackling important social issues such as fuel poverty. The strategy includes significant investment in upgrading homes, underlying aims to upgrade all fuel poor homes to EPC band C by 2030 and to roll this out to other homes where “practical, cost-effective and affordable” by 2035. However, the focus is on businesses, who will be supported to boost energy productivity (a measure of efficiency) by 20% by 2030.

Environment. Commitments to protect and enhance our natural resources include planting 11 million trees and protecting peatlands, which help slow climate change by storing vast reserves of carbon. There is also a reference to aligning support for agriculture with addressing climate change and protecting nature – this will be an important area for future policy as we leave the EU and await a delayed 25 year plan from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Offshore wind. Plans to work with industry could add substantially to the UK’s offshore wind capacity, which is already the largest in the world. More money will be made available for an auction process already crediting with halving the cost of offshore wind over the last two years.

What next?

Clearly additional action to bring UK decarbonisation in line with the UK Climate Change Act is critical. The strategy mentions that permission within the Act to use ‘flexibilities’ (such as the purchase of international carbon credits) could be used in place of deeper cuts to domestic emissions; something that undermines collective international action on climate change and which the Committee on Climate Change, who independently advise the government, have already come out in opposition to.

Successful climate action in the UK will need continued commitment and support from politicians, as well as concrete plans and policies that both build on the Clean Growth strategy and address opportunities given little support in the plan (such as solar power and onshore wind).

Ask your MP to support building on the goals in the Clean Growth strategy, and about how its aims for improved energy efficiency, green transport and a high quality natural environment will be realised in your constituency. Read our resources on having an effective conversation with your MP here, and click on the buttons below for further information on the above issues. 

"Do you want to preach at people or get something done?" Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling gives his advice to climate campaigners.

John Musker, who is cycling over 1400 miles this October to raise money for Hope for the Future, met with Thomas Tugendhat MP to ask for his support for the ride. Mr Tugendhat was delighted to hear of Hope for the Future’s cross party work on climate change and even laid down a challenge for the ride: 'make it to Rome in two weeks and I'll double my donation!'

Thomas Tugendhat MP and John Musker. You can sponsor Hope Ride here. 

Thomas Tugendhat MP and John Musker. You can sponsor Hope Ride here

Mr Tugendhat laid out a vision for tackling climate change that strikes right to the heart of the issues people are already working with every day. 'Do you want to preach to people, or get results?' he asked us, 'if you want to get something done about climate change you have to start where people are. Climate change effects pretty much everything - there are hundreds of issues that can serve as a means for getting peoples’ attention about the issue.'

Whilst positive about the wide acceptance of climate change in Parliament, Mr Tugendhat also emphasised that the agenda of politicians must be set by the electorate. For the average person, working hard to support their family, pay the bills or balance the demands of life, is climate change top of their agenda? No. But air pollution, fuel poverty, public transport, local flooding, food prices? Quite possibly.

Mr Tugendhat shared in depth knowledge and passion for emerging technologies that have the potential to improve quality of life whilst also tackling climate change. Speaking about his own experience balancing long hours working in Parliament with family life and his work to support better public transport, he encouraged us to also think about how we can emphasise the co-benefits of tackling the issue. Political and cultural change work hand in hand, with tobacco and drink driving as excellent examples. ‘We’re where we were at in the 1980’s with tobacco companies’ Mr Tugendhat told us. So the question for us as campaigners, with the Government currently set to miss its fourth carbon budget, is how do we translate the scientific consensus on climate change into radical political and cultural change?

A recent report by environmental political researcher, Rebecca Willis, outlines clearly the work that is still to be done to ensure that talking about climate change in Parliament isn’t seen as ‘a career limiting move’. Politicians’ reluctance to talk about climate change for its own sake speaks volumes to us as campaigners about our messaging. 

The work of climate communications specialists, such as our friends at Climate Outreach, is vital in this regard. The solutions put forward - and this must include by us as campaigners - must be truly representative of public concern and capable of outlasting five yearly election cycles and fast moving, conflicting political narratives. Hope for the Future’s lobbying approach invites and welcomes all those with a serious commitment to public service, regardless of political values, to the table of debate. We can support you to create a tailored lobbying strategy for working with your MP on climate change. Click here to find out how. 

Guest Blog From Hope for the Future's Patron, the Bishop of Oxford

The Bishop of Oxford writes about why faith communities are so strongly equipped to respond to climate change. Following an historic meeting at Oxford University's Museum of Natural History, he reflects on why climate change negotiators should be engaging first and foremost with faith communities. This is a shortened version of Bishop Steven's blog, the full version of which you can read here

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Last week I had the immense privilege of speaking with about 50 senior climate change negotiators from all across Europe and the developing world. Everyone I spoke to affirmed the reality of climate change affecting their country through drought or extreme weather events.

The Museum of Natural History hosted a famous debate in 1860 as one of its first events between Samuel Wilbeforce, Bishop of Oxford and Thomas Henry Huxley, later known as “Darwin’s bulldog”. The debate centred around faith and science in opposition to each other and in particular Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species, published a few months earlier. The debate is commemorated on a large stone at the entrance to the museum (photo to the right).

The dinner last week looked back to this debate and focused on the climate change and the approach of the faith communities and of scientists. Unlike 1860, all parties were agreed that we must do all in our power to use our different insights to combat climate change for the sake of present and future generations. 

Here are five compelling reasons why you should engage with faith communities in your role as senior climate change negotiators.

First and foremost because faith communities make up the majority of the global population. Ten years ago, long before the historic Paris agreement, the UK’s environment agency asked 25 leading environmentalists what needed to happen (As reported by Joe Ware in the Church Times, 11th August, 2017). There were 50 suggestions. Second on the list, behind improving energy efficiency was that religious leaders should make the environment a priority for their followers because of the enormous potential influence for change.

Out of a global population of 7.1 billion just 1.1 billion people are secular, non religious,
agnostic or atheist. The remainder belong in some way to one of the great world faiths. 31% of the global population is Christian. 22% belong to Islam. Within the European Union 72% of the population still claim some sort of adherence to Christianity. Just 20% would claim to be atheist or secular though there is considerable variation across the continent. What churches and faiths teach on this subject matters.

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Second, faith shapes values and lives in powerful ways. The Christian faith helps people aspire to virtue, to living as God intends and often against personal self interest and for the sake of others. That is exactly the attitude the world needs to combat climate change.

The most powerful line in the Lord’s Prayer is “Give us this day our daily bread”. It is often
misunderstood as a hook on which to hang our petitions: the things we ask from God. Actually it is a prayer which points back to the worshipper: help us to be content with exactly what we need this day: “Help us to be thankful just for what we need to stay alive”. The Lord’s Prayer is the most powerful antidote to greed and consumerism the world has ever known.

Third, the faith communities are global communities. We are conscious in the Christian
Church of our sisters and brothers across the world. I am looking forward to visiting South Africa in September with our link Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman. Many local churches and dioceses have these international relationships. In one of our sessions we will be studying climate change. When we listen to the news about the disproportionate effect of climate change on the poorest in the world, these are our sisters and brothers.

Fourth, our feet are dancing to a different song (or they should be). There is a close connection between the global economic system and climate change. The planet cannot sustain continuous expansion in energy consumption. Increasingly the world of politics and economics dances to a single tune: continuous economic growth and expansion. We need alternative ideologies to support a more sustainable world. The faith communities have alternative ideologies – a different authority: in the case of Christians, the Scriptures and the person of Jesus Christ.

That ideology understands the connection between our inner and outer life. Pope Francis is one of the few contemporary figures able to write a letter to the entire world – his great encyclical Laudato’ Si. One of the most telling quotations in his letter is from Benedict his predecessor:

The external deserts in the world are growing because the internal deserts are so vast.
— Pope Benedict

Our external ecology is connected to our internal ecology. Faith communities nurture that inner life and offer a different song and strength to resist.

And fifth, faith communities know how to take action for change. Christians are called to be
disciples: always learning. We understand the world is imperfect. We are committed to
making a difference. We know or we can learn how to mobilise others to achieve common
goals.

I am the patron of a small campaigning organisation, Hope for the Future. Hope was founded in 2013 by a small group of churches in Yorkshire and specialises in equipping local churches and other faith groups to lobby their MP’s on climate change issues. Last year Hope for the Future trained over 1,000 people in our lobbying approach. Through our training and one to one support, we have impacted over 100 climate conversations between MPs and their constituents this year. We know from feedback from local churches and from MP’s that Hope makes a difference.

The anthropologist Margaret Mead said this. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has”. I suspect that most of us will know that quotation more from the West Wing than from Mead herself.

Faith communities are places where those small groups of thoughtful and committed citizens are found. We are not perfect. We are not uniform. But we are communities of hope whose values lead us to work for change, not against the findings of science but in tandem to bring about a more sustainable world.

Hope for the Future volunteer breaks the ice with Shadow Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Hope for the Future's Remote Support Assistant Volunteer, Marie Flanaghan, writes about her first MP meeting with Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy following training from Hope for the Future.

As a Hope for the Future volunteer, I provide constituents with information, training, and knowledge about how to meet their MP. Before joining HFTF, I have had little experience with my own MP. So, shortly after I began my role here and after undergoing HFTF training, I grabbed the opportunity to assist with and attend a meeting with Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Rebecca Long-Bailey. The training I have received with HFTF made me confident that, working with the constituents, I could help to conduct a helpful and productive meeting.

From left to right: Ruth Platt, Marie Flanaghan, Sandra Dutson, Rebecca Long-Bailey MP and Friends of the Earth representative, Ali Abbas.

From left to right: Ruth Platt, Marie Flanaghan, Sandra Dutson, Rebecca Long-Bailey MP and Friends of the Earth representative, Ali Abbas.

Rebecca, the MP for Salford and Eccles, has previously expressed interest in various aspects of policy dealing with and affecting climate change. Visiting the world’s first tidal power plant in Swansea a few months ago, she expressed the need for urgency in the government’s support for such pioneering enterprises. She has likewise spoken up about fuel poverty – an issue which affects her constituency disproportionately – and the urgent need to address it.

Going to meet with her, then, I was hopeful and optimistic. A seemingly nice meeting for me to cut my teeth on! I met Rebecca with two constituents and a Friends of the Earth representative. She took 30 minutes out of her busy schedule – and on a Friday at 5pm! – to chat with us.

The meeting was an incredibly engaging and encouraging one, in which we were all in agreement on the detrimental effects of climate change and the need to pursue further action as a country. We talked about a number of issues, from fracking to green spaces and all the while Rebecca took notes. Such engagement is certainly promising!

One issue Rebecca was particularly passionate about during the meeting was electric vehicles. She believes that the UK has an opportunity to lead the way in replacing polluting petrol vehicles with clean, electric vehicles. I thought it was inspiring that she sees the opportunity and promise in such a move, rather than predicting risks and approaching the situation with fear. Rebecca spoke about the pressing need to set an end-date for petrol cars, something which has since been announced.

I thought it was inspiring that she sees the opportunity and promise in such a move, rather than predicting risks and approaching the situation with fear.

Rebecca was also interested in promoting community self-sufficiency, believing that this is the way forward for the UK. For her, the goal is to promote such self-sustainability within 30 years. In order to do so, she spoke about the need to educate on climate change, allowing people to make the connection between themselves and the larger issue of climate change. As part of this promotion of clean, sustainable energy, she made a commitment to meet with Community Energy England to discuss matters further.

Rebecca’s manner of focusing on the opportunities which the issue of climate change brings – particularly in terms of the advancements within the realm of electric vehicles and renewable energy – is so encouraging. Such a positive understanding and approach will allow us to march forward not with fear but with promise.

While every MP may not be as receptive as Rebecca, I look forward to utilising the techniques I have learnt in HFTF to empower myself and constituents alike to work towards future productive meetings. 

"I think that the hon. Lady has deeply misjudged the tone of the House today." Why Climate Silence Exists in the Houses of Parliament

Some of you may have seen the following exchange in Parliament the other day in response to the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Irma in parts of America and the Caribbean. 

This debate was called by the Government to address the UK's response to the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma. Sir Alan Duncan MP, Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, delivered the Government's response to the House of Commons. On four occasions during this debate, MPs attempted to bring up climate change as a broader cause of the recent extreme weather events which needs to be addressed. On all of these occasions, however, Sir Alan Duncan brought the discussion back to focus on the more immediate concern of responding to those being affected by the hurricane. 

Those of us wanting to encourage open discussion about the root cause of increased extreme weather events couldn’t help but feel disappointed by Sir Alan’s dismissive response. By no means were these MPs ignoring the immediate need of those across America, rather it was a stark opportunity to address the causing factor of these disasters in order to reduce their instances in the future. It is possible, however, that the way in which the questions were asked elicited the defensive response they received. 

It is not uncommon to see exchanges such as the one above happening in Parliament, but is there more going on here than party politics and the throwing around of climate change as a political football? Republican climate sceptic turned climate activist, Bob Inglis, thinks so.

Bob Inglis is the founder of republicEn.org, an initiative that brings together American Conservatives concerned about climate change. In a recent podcast with Ana Marie Cox called 'You Can't Build Things With Pitchforks and Torches', Bob Inglis spoke about a few of the barriers to Conservatives engaging with climate change. One such barrier was a lack of confidence that people on the right might feel towards the arguments around climate change. When someone doesn't feel equipped to enter a discussion, they may wish to shut it down. 

Once Conservatives start feeling like they can enter the competition of ideas, then they can stop striking sides of denial.
— Bob Inglis, Republican Climate Activist

He uses the metaphor of a tribe leader not wanting to leave the tent to go and face the other tribe leaders down at the river. If they were to leave the tent, they may be stabbed in the back by those in the tent because they are frightened that they don't have the answers. Picture this: Donald Trump goes to meet Al Gore to have a discussion about climate change. Who is more equipped to engage in this discussion? If Trump feels insecure about contributing his ideas, he may find it easier to simply deny the focal point of the discussion (climate change) and disengage from the conversation. 

In the above example, although Sir Alan Duncan did not in any way deny climate change, he refused to engage with it as a possible cause of the hurricanes that needs to be urgently addressed. This may well be because he did not feel equipped to respond to the questions put forward by the other MPs. Caroline’s challenge clearly put Sir Alan on the defence because, as climate change becomes more and more apparent, the political narrative will have to change and those who have not taken the issue seriously will be exposed.

If Sir Alan feels under qualified to talk about climate change, perhaps he wants to avoid talking about it. Maybe this is what often happens in parliamentary debates. So how can we approach our MPs in a way that will not lead them to dismiss discussions of the issue? If we approach our MPs to raise their awareness but without leaving them defensive, we may well find a more receptive audience willing to engage.

As constituents, we are in a position to equip our MPs with the knowledge, and therefore the confidence, to engage in debates around climate change. MPs have a barrage of local and national issues facing them every day, and they are likely to prioritise those issues where they feel confident that they can offer a valuable input. Meeting with your MP about climate change and supplying them with key facts brings the issue to the forefront of their conscious and equips them to enter the competition of ideas.

Our Story: Will you join us on a Journey towards Hope for the Future?

John Musker is cycling from Canterbury to Rome to raise money for Hope for the Future. Find out more. 

John Musker is cycling from Canterbury to Rome to raise money for Hope for the Future. Find out more. 

In celebration of our official registration as a charity, this October John Musker will be cycling from Canterbury to Rome to raise money for the work of Hope for the Future. Read more about John's bike ride here and find out more about Hope for the Future's journey below.

Our Story

Hope for the Future was born in the summer of 2013 when several Yorkshire Churches asked what on earth we could do to bring a greater sense of urgency about the biggest challenge of our time - climate change.

The campaign aimed to involve whole churches, spanning the entire political spectrum, rather than a few keen environmentalists. Participating in MP meetings across the country, we learned a lot about what makes for an effective engagement with an MP. We quickly became the only organisation in the UK researching the practicalities of building good interactions between constituents and MPs.

We have developed an approach to effective MP engagement based on finding common ground, building bridges and respecting differences in opinion, regardless of differing political values. We learned a huge amount from MPs too, and realised that much can be achieved by seeking to work with our politicians.

We are amazed to now be working nationally with over 50 MPs across the country and hundreds of constituents. It has been an incredible journey so far and we are delighted to have finally received charitable status in June this year.

Time and time again we have seen constructive outcomes as MPs, including cabinet ministers and climate sceptics, offer to take action on climate related issues such as securing free parking for electric vehicles, raising awareness in their constituency, and supporting renewable  energy in Parliament. We’re only just beginning and there is so much more we want to do.

Politicians from across the political spectrum have offered their endorsement for our work, including Lord Deben, formerly John Gummer and now chair of the Climate Change Committee, and Ed Miliband, who described our approach as 'one of the best approaches to lobbying I have heard about in a long time'.

With the right training, we have seen how engagement with MPs and policy makers can be considerably improved. In 2016 alone, the campaign trained over 1000 people in effective MP engagement, contributing to hundreds of MP meetings across the country.

Support our work and John's ride to Rome by donating to us here. Thank you!

Finding Common Ground with my Uninterested MP

Meet Eileen. She's in her nineties and passionately working for social and environmental justice. Our team aspire to be like Elieen where we're her age! Read her story meeting with climate sceptic Graham Brady MP below. If you would like any support working with your MP contact us here.

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I recently met with my MP, Graham Brady, to discuss my concerns around air pollution in Altrincham. I wanted to meet with Graham because I am very concerned about the health issues resulting from high levels of air pollution, especially for young children attending schools on highly congested roads.  I have met with Graham previously and although we have always had a perfectly pleasant conversation, there was never any outcome from the meeting. This time I wanted to see action taken on the issues that I am concerned about.

Following support and advice from Hope for the Future, I prepared some key facts for the meeting with Mr Brady, about the issues I planned to raise with him. This showed that I had done my research on the issue but also by providing a copy of this for Graham, I was able to offer information to enhance his knowledge of issues that matter to local residents.

I seemed to capture Graham’s attention when I told him that 4 nurseries in Trafford (out of 35 in Greater Manchester altogether) are close to roads that break legal pollution limits. After this, Graham agreed to find out who is responsible for the monitoring of local air pollution levels. I raised electric vehicles as a solution to the air pollution problem. Graham was sure that the electric vehicle market is going to expand rapidly so I asked him what we could do here in Altrincham to provide incentives for EVs. Though Graham had economic concerns around some of the incentives I suggested, it was agreed that the local council would look into incentives that would work best. Even though Graham and I differed on our views on climate change, we both agreed that electric vehicles could contribute to reduction of air pollution. Overall, my MP and I didn’t see eye to eye on everything but we found common ground on air pollution. Although at points the meeting was frustrating, Graham did agree to follow up on a few things and he wrote a letter to me confirming he would. We have also invited Graham to attend a local event on electric vehicles as the next step - and we intend to keep on building the relationship.

I encourage anyone with a concern relating to climate change to meet with their MP, no matter whether your political opinions differ or not. I learned that finding common ground is exceptionally important to establish a relationship, which I hope to strengthen in future meetings with my MP.