SECA is here to make suggestions, share ideas and resources, and coordinate action. Each group will want to do things in their own way. Some will prefer traditional approaches, and others more direct action. But, however you go about it, it is good to know that there are a lot of us out here all working in the same direction!
There seem be two main paths open to us for influencing our local councils to declare a Climate Emergency:
- Approaching local councillors
- Focusing on candidates in the upcoming local elections on May 2nd 2019
A. Approaching local councillors
Local groups could write to – or even better – meet their councillors to let them know your thoughts on climate change and ask whether they would be prepared to support a climate emergency. And if not, what are their reasons?
To magnify their impact, local groups could pass the word around to contacts and friends in the area, and in other wards, to encourage them to write letters too. ‘Ordinary people’ who are not normally environmental activists could be particularly valuable in raising the issue as this would show councillors that mainstream concern is growing.
It’s easy to find your local councillors and send them a message. Use the Write to Them website. You just put in your post code and you can select the people you want to write to, and send your message directly from there.
Say who you are, where you live, that you are asking them to support a Declaration of Climate Emergency, that this should be a cross party issue, and why you think it is important in your own words. Councillors get bombarded with campaign material and tend to ignore ‘cut and paste’ letters.
SECA has issued two Calls to Action for members and supporters in Surrey and West Sussex, with further details on what to do, as motions to declare an emergency have been tabled at both County Councils. They are coming up for debate shortly, so we ne
ed to get moving:
- Surrey County Council is debating their motion on March 19th – here’s the Surrey Call to Action
- West Sussex County Council is debating theirs on April 5th – here’s the West Sussex Call to Action
If you live in Surrey, check out the Dorking Climate Emergency website. They are getting behind the upcoming climate emergency motion put forward by County Councillor Jonathan Essex, that’s coming up for debate on March 19th. You can watch this two minute video by Jonathan explaining the thinking behind the motion.
B. Focusing on the upcoming local elections
This approach is especially relevant for District and Borough councils as they are coming up for re-election on May 2nd 2019. The suggestion is for local groups to write to all their local candidates once these are announced (the deadline is April 4th), asking them whether they would support a declaration of Climate Emergency if a motion were to come to the council (or indeed whether they would be prepared to put a motion forward if elected).
To help voters make their choice on election day, a list of candidates who have publicly supported a Declaration will be displayed on this website, and elsewhere.
Tactics for mobilising support
We need to rally as many local residents as possible if our campaign is to succeed. There’s a whole variety of ways of doing this, for example:
- Street stalls
- Demonstrations and other direct actions
- Holding hustings meetings where you get candidates to introduce themselves, and state their positions on climate change and other environmental issues
- Leafleting householders
- Letter writing events – for example opening up village hall on a Saturday morning, perhaps offering tea and cakes as an enticement;
- Contacting other community groups and ask for their help in spreading the word (eg Eco churches, wildlife groups, gardening groups, etc.)
- Engaging young people through schools, sports clubs and youth groups (taking advantage of the publicity and momentum created by the inspirational Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, and the recent Youth Strike for Climate demonstration )
Here’s a link to the Campaign Guide on the Climate Emergency UK website.
Borrowing an idea from Australia, you can ask candidates or councillors to publicly declare their support by asking them to write their name on a pledge card saying ‘I support a climate emergency declaration’, taking a photograph of themselves holding it up, and sharing it on social media (tag us in using our twitter handle: @SECA_UK). Here’s a picture showing how they’re using this tactic in Australia.
You can download a pledge card here.
Resources to help local campaigns
We will be developing a set of resources for groups to make use of. For example:
- I support a climate emergency declaration pledge card
- Evidence to show councillors (coming soon)
- A South East Climate Alliance A3 Poster
We have created a checklist showing progress made in different councils across Surrey and Sussex in declaring a climate emergency.
This is work in progress, and almost certainly misses some important actions. Please help us keep up to date by feeding back any developments you’re aware of. Email us at: email@example.com