12 December 2019: Climate Election

Photo: Steve Eason

This election could decide which political power in the UK until May 2024. These five crucial years for our climate will determine whether the UK acts to avoid climate breakdown or whether we throw away this chance on half-measures and business as usual. Our only chance to avoid climate catastrophe is a radical programme of investment in the infrastructure and jobs we need to create a greener, fairer society and cut emissions rapidly. 

Because of this, it is very clear that a win for Boris Johnson and the current Conservative Party would be a loss for the climate, and for all our futures (read more). What can we do as climate campaigners? 

Support the 29 November climate strike

Find out more here

Organise a local climate hustings

A hustings is a panel discussion in the run-up to an election where candidates debate policies and answer questions from the audience. Hustings should be 'politically impartial'. As a minimum, you should invite all candidates in your constituencies whose parties hold seats in Westminster. Approach local groups who might like to collaborate on organising and publicising the event. Friends of the Earth tips on organising a climate hustings

Suggested questions below (they can also be used in any other hustings or other opportunity to question candidates)

Hold party leaders to account

Youth climate campaigners are calling on party leaders to take part in a national televised debate on climate change - a proposal already supported by Labour, the SNP and the Lib Dems.

Sign the petition.

Support youth voter registration

While 54% of voters say the climate crisis will influence how they vote, this rises to 74% of 18-24 year olds. However, young people have been significantly less likely to vote in general elections than older age groups. Although there is a trend towards increasing youth turnout, the timing of this election at the end of termtime for many students, creates another barrier to voting. The youth vote could have a crucial influence on the election's outcome.

The UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC) have put together an information pack with useful guidance on registering to vote and how you can get others to sign up - in person or online. (download graphics and posters).

Youth Vote UK 2019 provides information about how to help with voter registration in marginal constituencies, including linking up with others in your area. Not sure which constituencies around you are 'marginals'? Here's a list of constituencies by region and majority of the sitting MP.

Vote for Your Future also offer free materials for youth voter registration.

The deadline for registering to vote is midnight on 26 November (link to register)

Not sure whether you can make it to the polling station on 12 December? The deadline for applying for a postal vote is also 26 November (except in Northern Ireland where it is 21 November). Applying for a postal vote can be important for students, who can register to vote in both their home and university constituencies and then choose to vote where they think their vote will make the most difference (tool to compare constituencies).

There are other voter registration campaigns, for example for boat-dwellers and others of no fixed address and for citizens of Commonwealth countries.

Climate hustings - some suggested questions!

What is your your party's target date for reaching net zero emissions for the UK and why was it chosen?

Will you be aiming to get the UK to 100% renewable energy, and if so by when?

The UK is currently off course to meet its target of 80% emissions cuts by 2050. What do you think the most important policy changes are to achieve net zero by the chosen target date?

Airports around the country are planning expansion - if all these plans go ahead passenger numbers will rise by two thirds. What national policies will you bring in to curb this expansion and reduce emissions from this sector rather than allowing them to increase? (1) 

In government, would your party commit to a permanent ban on all forms of unconventional oil and gas extraction, including fracking?

How would your party’s policies help get people out of their cars in urban areas and promote public transport, cycling and walking to tackle air pollution and cut carbon emissions?

Will your party help remove barriers to communities generating their own renewable energy, including onshore wind energy?

Tackling climate change means making big changes in our society. How will you ensure that ordinary people have a voice in this change?

How will you ensure that communities currently reliant on high carbon industries for jobs are not left behind in the transition to a low carbon economy, and that decent, unionised, climate jobs are available across the country.

The government’s climate advisors have said 1.5 billion new trees are needed to enable the UK to reach its ‘net zero’ climate target. How will you ensure our countryside - agricultural land, forests and other habitats - is managed to take up carbon and restore our lost biodiversity?

Will your party continue the current high levels of subsidies for industrial biomass burning, or transfer these subsidies to renewable energy? (2)

Many of the poorest people around the world are already suffering harm from climate impacts, being forced from their homes by climate-related disasters or having to migrate because of longer term crises like drought. How will your party's policies promote climate justice?

1) While government policy is to rely on the international aviation offsetting scheme, CORSIA, there are big question marks over its ability to deliver real emissions reductions rather than double counting (read more on CORSIA here)

2)  Biomass is often classed as ‘renewable energy’ but it takes decades for new trees to regrow. Diverse forests may also be cut and replaced with monoculture plantations - worse for carbon and biodiversity. Drax power station burns more than the UK’s annual wood production. Further info