"Let's all do our bit": Personal credibility as a means to overcoming your MP's scepticism on climate action

All too often an MP will brush off arguments for stronger climate policy insisting that it is up to each and everyone of us to ‘do our bit’. At the end of the day - we hear MPs say - it’s no good just leaving it to the Government to sort because we each go home to our gas heated homes and oil powered cars. 

It’s a clever way to evade key issues, but it also identifies a major critique which is undermining perceptions of the climate movement; climate campaigners can make all the demands they wish, but are we engaging with the tough issues ourselves? Are we willing to make sacrifices in our own lives before we ask others to do the same, or do we just want to have our cake and eat it?

Our friends at Climate Outreach are specialists in communicating climate change, particularly with conservative audiences. They have identified authenticity as a vital component in communicating climate change well. If an argument seems unnatural or forced it will be detrimental to the speaker’s credibility.

You must be trusted as a communicator for your message to be heard. Using examples from businesses and organisations that your MP is likely to respect, such as large scale fossil fuel divestment, is an effective means of persuading MPs. However, demonstrating that you are already making changes yourself will increase the credibility of your own voice. Your own story may also make it easier for your MP to back up an argument in Parliament, such as arguing for stronger solar investment by explaining the impact of cuts to solar subsidies on a constituent’s fuel bills.

Our offsetting partner, Climate Stewards, helps people to recognise their individual carbon footprint and to “reduce what you can and offset the rest”. Climate Stewards is a strong example of how action on climate change can work towards a fairer, better world for everyone. Unavoidable carbon emissions can be compensated for by funding projects that take carbon out of the atmosphere in countries most affected by climate change, such as tree planting. The projects brings other positive impacts also such as economic benefits to the local community.

Carbon offsetting is a great example to your MP of how individuals, NGOs and businesses around the UK are ‘doing their bit’. If you can demonstrate how you are willing to practice what you preach, it will demonstrate to your MP the credibility they are looking which will help motivate them to do their part too.

An MP is absolutely right when they say that we shouldn’t just leave it up to our politicians. Of course, it is both that we need; a top-down and bottom-up approach that will generate the dynamics for the change we need to see. Demonstrating to our MPs that we are willing to put the work into making certain changes ourselves is a vital step in developing a strong working partnership.

Click here for more information on the training Hope for the Future offers in how to effectively engage MPs on climate change, including overcoming common counter-arguments.