"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.