Tackling climate change involves not only making changes in our own lives, but making changes in our society. We can help by getting involved with groups and initiatives that are helping change the bigger picture.
No, that doesn’t have to mean joining a political party or marching in the street although they’re great ways to work for change if that’s your thing. We need our politicians to make laws and policies to tackle climate change, and they need to know how much support there is for that out here in the electorate.
Ultimately politicians want your vote. So make sure you exercise that privilege in both the central and local government elections, and encourage friends and family to vote too. Less than 45% of us voted in the last Greater Christchurch (Christchurch City, Waimakariri, Selwyn and Environment Canterbury) elections, yet these councils have a big influence on how climate change is tackled locally. They set the rules on things like land use, transport routes and public transport, water use and quality, and many other things.
Between elections, there are many other ways to support good climate change laws and policies. Government often calls for submissions or feedback on particular proposals and plans. Making a submission is a formal process and it can sound a bit daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. You can do it on-line, or write something and email or post it in. Both submission and feedback processes often have an on-line questionnaire to be completed. You don’t have to answer every question! Just comment on the bits that matter most to you. If you know of an organisation or a friend who’s doing a submission and you like the points they’re making, you can make a submission to say you support theirs.
You can find out what central government is inviting submissions on by going to Make a Submission. If there’s anything major going on we’ll probably have it on our Flourish FaceBook page.
We also try to let you know what our local councils and ECan are consulting on. Here’s where we get our info from:
Christchurch City Council: Right now they want to know your views on managing and adapting to coastal hazards, the Ferry Rd cycleway trial, and their draft Community Strategy.
Selwyn District Council
Waimakariri District Council: At present they’re consulting on the draft District Plan.
ECan: Register to be on their on-line community panel Here.
Petitions are also a great way to let local or central government know how much support there is for a policy or action. And it’s really easy to take part – just add your full name and signature. If you want to start a petition, make sure when you write it that it’s clear and unambiguous. Avoid emotive language and be specific about what you want. Here’s more info about creating a petition. Action Station, Change.org and Greenpeace often have relevant petitions you can add your voice to or create your own.
MPs and Councillors have busy calendars, but they like to meet people if possible. If you’re organising a community meeting, invite your local MP or councillor to be the guest speaker. Give them plenty of notice, an idea of what you want them to talk about, how long you’d like them to talk (not too long), and how much time there will be for questions and discussion (lots). You can also meet with an MP or councillor to discuss an issue. It’s a good idea to prepare beforehand by writing down your main points so you can refer to them. You might even want to write a summary to leave with them.
I think that sometimes people forget that politicians are people too, with feelings and emotions just like the rest of us. We all love to criticise them, and that must get pretty demoralising for even the most positive person. So let’s show them some love! Everyone loves positive feedback. If they’ve done something you like, voted for a good climate change policy, made a speech about climate change that you agree with, let them know. Send an email to them or make a post on their Facebook page to thank them. And if they’ve done something you disagree with, then do so respectfully and give constructive ideas as an alternative. If somebody is rude and abusive to me because I hold a view they disagree with, I tend to withdraw and close my mind to their arguments. But if they can present their views respectfully I’m much more likely to consider their argument.
Get your money working for change
The economy has a huge impact on climate change, by influencing what businesses do to make their profits. Businesses and Banks need your dollars and they’re getting much more aware of how much climate issues matter to us consumers.
Banks, insurance companies and Kiwisaver schemes all invest money in businesses. Do the ones you deal with have a policy to not invest in businesses that contribute to greenhouse gases? It isn’t always very obvious, I had to do a search on my bank’s website and what I found was a bit vague. Let the companies you do business with know that you want them to have policies to help the planet. Anthea Madill is a local Sustainability Educator and entrepreneur. Here she writes on our Banks and fossil fuels and her experience with investigating Ethical Investing.
If you’re in Kiwisaver or are fortunate to have savings for investment, the Mindful Money website compares Kiwisaver providers and investment funds and helps you find ones to match your values. Good article here on using your Kiwisaver to drive action for Climate Change. Find out what Kiwisaver has to do with Plastic Pollution too.
There are lots of groups working for change, and getting organised into a group does carry costs. If you like what a group is doing, you can give them very practical support by making a donation. Even if they’re all volunteers there are always costs to be met, and resourcing the good work is a constant distraction for those involved.
Get together with others
Being amongst like minded people who are also passionate and targeting the big players can help a lot with your own anxiety and worry. It’s also good to be part of a group of people where we can all provide support, ideas and encouragement to each other. No one single person has all the skills and knowledge to take effective action, but a group of people will have a good range of strengths between them. Start with getting involved locally. No matter where you live there are easy ways to join in and get involved in local groups who are taking action on climate change. They’re always looking for volunteers, and everyone has strengths and skills to contribute. Check out your local library, community noticeboards and Facebook pages, and Volunteering Canterbury to find local groups.
Sometimes, non-violent direct action can get traction on an issue that needs an extra push. Getting together with others is the best way to take direct action. Marches, demonstrations, sit-ins, boycotts, and strikes can draw attention to your message and bring about change that less visible action may not have managed. It can mobilise lots of people and build a groundswell of support. A good example of that is the School Strike For Climate, which has been hugely successful in raising awareness and involvement in addressing climate change.
Here's a few local groups that you can get involved with:
There's loads of environment groups, community gardens and more to get involved with too - which all helps!
#7 Get Involved
Even liking, commenting and sharing our Climate 4 Change posts on Facebook helps - it means our messages are getting to more people!
More people means more impact. We're only going to make a big difference if we do it together.
On Climate Change:
"This is my generation's nuclear-free moment,
and I am determined that
we will tackle it head on."
Jacinda Arden, Campaign Launch 2017