Journeying with your MP to COP26

By Rachel Mander, Church and Outreach Officer, Hope for the Future

Published:10 March 2020

Rachel Mander, Church Outreach Officer, Hope for the Future
It is crucial that each and every MP has the knowledge and determination to make these talks a success, says Rachel Mander

In November, the UK will lead the annual UN international climate negotiations (COP26) in Glasgow, an important milestone in the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement. This year is the deadline for countries to present their final Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), quantifying how countries will support the effort to mitigate and adapt to climate change in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

How successful these talks are depends greatly on the stance and commitment of the hosting government – this is one of the reasons that the Copenhagen summit in 2009 is thought to have been unsuccessful, in contrast with the success in Paris in 2015.

There is huge potential for real change if the UK Government uses this year to lay out a substantive and ambitious plan to reach the 2050 Net Zero target it set in June 2019, and if MPs use this year to advocate on a cross-party basis for further climate action.

In the wake of the recent election, it is crucial that each and every MP, both new and re-elected, has the knowledge and determination to make these talks a success. To achieve this, MPs need to hear from supportive constituents who are committed to working collaboratively with their MP at local level.

The work of Hope for the Future

Hope for the Future are UK specialists in training citizens to work with MPs on climate change. We make it easier for local communities to contact their MPs, by providing political training, tailored resources and support throughout the whole process.

We have projects working with a variety of different community groups, schools, and individuals, facilitating meaningful dialogue between communities and their elected representatives, and ensuring representatives take decisive political action on climate change.

Journey with your MP to COP26

In the build-up to COP26, Hope for the Future is supporting faith groups across the UK to have meaningful conversations with their MPs about climate change, focusing on what MPs can do in their parliamentary capacity to support the UN negotiations.

Faith groups are often well respected and listened to by MPs, as they are embedded into local areas and have members spanning the political spectrum. Building support within pre-existing networks of faith groups is also a key way to engage new and more diverse audiences within the environmental movement.

Hope for the Future helps faith groups to contact their local MPs, by providing a draft letter to arrange a meeting and guidance on sending it. We also help faith groups to prepare for the meeting, by providing a tailored lobbying strategy and political training. If faith groups want to get even more involved ahead of COP26, we can also support the organisation of panel events in their area.

What’s it like to meet your MP?

Many people are daunted by the thought of meeting their MP, or feel sceptical about what difference it makes. Hope for the Future provides hands-on support for this reason, making use of our expertise to give suitable advice.

In our experience, faith groups who are initially intimidated about the process tell us how rewarding it has been to get to know their MP and engage the wider community with climate change.

St Michael’s and All Angels Church in Borehamwood, with their MP Oliver Dowden
St Michael’s and All Angels Church in Borehamwood, with their MP Oliver Dowden

This is definitely the experience of St Michael’s and All Angels Church in Borehamwood.

They met their Conservative MP, Oliver Dowden, for the first time in June. Since then, Oliver has attended follow-up events, including a ‘big green coffee morning’ and a climate hustings which was attended by over 70 people from the local area. The church now has a working relationship with Oliver, and is looking forward to taking this further over the course of 2020.

Our aim is to replicate the success of St Michael’s and All Angels Church across the UK, building relationships between faith groups and all 650 MPs.

Not only would this put the UK in a really strong position for the international climate discussions at COP26 in November, but it would provide the foundations for further work beyond November as the UK looks to implement policies over the coming decades which will secure the reality of our national Net Zero commitment.

Can you help?

Are you part of a faith community who could get involved? Would you like support contacting and meeting your MP ahead of COP26? Please email Rachel at rachel.mander@hftf.org.uk. Together, we can help make COP26 a success!

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