Hope for the Future’s Research Coordinator Josh Barnes gives us some useful advice about how to communicate the importance of renewable energy to your local politician.
The idea of talking to a local politician about energy can be daunting. It is a complex political topic that covers everything from the extraction of oil and gas from the North Sea to the efficiency of your kettle. Hope for the Future can provide you with up-to-date policy research on renewables, fossil fuels and greener homes to help you speak with confidence to your local MP, MSP or councillor.
But policy knowledge alone isn’t enough. While decision makers do rely on technical analysis to guide their actions, they also need to hear from their constituents if they are going to be effective representatives. Here are some of the ways you can make sure your voice cuts through with your local politician.
Tell them why it matters to you
Politicians can devote their time to any number of different issues. Most of the topics that they choose to prioritise tend to be ones that they know their constituents really care about. As your representative, suggesting some actions they could take to promote a cause also gives them a mandate to act. Even if the politician is personally persuaded that an issue is important, they are much more likely to campaign on it if they are encouraged by their constituents.
Draw on your experiences
Another thing that constituent voices can bring to discussions with politicians are real life experiences. It’s possible that you could persuade a politician to advocate for more wind farms because it is set out in the Climate Change Committee’s pathway to net zero report. However, you are more likely to be successful if you tell them that new wind farms could help to bring down the cost of living for your local community, who have been struggling with their energy bills.
Explain what works and what doesn’t
Policies that sound good in theory can fall apart when they are implemented in practice. Constituents have an important role to play in telling local politicians where policies are and aren’t working for them.
For example, the government may have a scheme that offers subsidies for local residents to install heat pumps in their home but if no local suppliers are available to fit them or you can’t find any information on how to access the scheme, it isn’t going to work. Examples like these are useful to politicians as they enable them to use a specific issue as a starting point for talking about a wider topic.
If you are interested in talking to your local politician about ending fossil fuel extraction, ramping up renewable energy or making sure everyone can heat their homes, get in touch with one of our engagement officers here.