When you hear the words climate activism, the image that often springs to mind is a protest, often disruptive (though not violent) and with protestors being arrested - and often with members of the general public getting (understandably) frustrated and angry at the disruption caused.
And although between 64%-75% of us are worried about the climate crisis[i], with this being the definition of climate activism, climate activism remains out of reach.
Some may not agree with the tactics used. Some may not agree with the disruption caused. And many don't want to risk getting arrested and gaining a criminal record.
(As I side note: whether we agree or disagree with disruptive protest groups such as Just Stop Oil, I highly recommend watching this short film about one of the Just Stop Oil protestors and his reasons behind slow-marching: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CxfyEANhHij/)
And so, with that form of action off the table, many of us settle with the mindset of "I don't want to do that, so there's nothing I can do."
Three ways you can take climate action:
But as with almost everything in life, it's not a case of Either... Or... Climate Activism takes MANY forms.
If you care about our and our children's futures and are worried about the impacts of climate change (and 2/3rds of us in the UK are worried[i]), then there are MANY forms of climate action you can take, which doesn't involve glue, paint or slow marching, and can often be done from the comfort of our own homes.
Here are just three forms of home-based climate activism to get you started...
1. TALK about the Climate Crisis
This might be THE scariest thing to do for many of us (other than taking to the streets). It can feel so awkward and uncomfortable and such a taboo topic to raise. Those of us who do talk about it regularly aren’t immune from this feeling, and sometimes wish we could give up.
But we don’t. And that’s because it’s such an effective tool.
We need 25% of us, 1 in 4 of the population, of our friends, family, colleagues, social media followers to be visibly talking about the climate emergency and embracing climate solutions. This is because at 25%, we reach a critical social tipping poin, whereby minority views quickly become majority views, and a cascade of positive change is triggered.[ii]
Other research shows people believe they’re more alone in thinking more people should take climate-positive action than they really are. The research found that nearly 6 in 10 Americans think that people should install solar panels on their homes.
However, when asking those same people about what others believe, they estimate only half (only 3 in 10 people) think other people should install solar panels. If people don’t realise that those around them hold positive views of these climate actions, they are less likely to take climate action.[iii]
It is IMPERATIVE that we talk out and show others that they are not alone in their climate-friendly views, and climate-positive actions. Then all of us will be more likely to talk about and we’ll be able to reach that magic 25% tipping point.
Start with your social media. Share a post on your stories / status. No need to write anything if you don’t know what to write. Just pop it up there and let people see it. It will disappear after 24 hours, so you won’t be stuck with it forever.
Give it a try – I know you can do it. (And let me know in the comments how it went.)
2. Email your MP
“The UK public elects Members of Parliament (MPs) to represent their interests and concerns in the House of Commons.”[iv]
This is what is said on the parliament.uk website. And it’s worth remembering. We elect our MPs to represent our interests and concerns.
Of course, the reality is that not all / many of them do that. But it IS their duty.
And that means it’s our duty, and opportunity, to continue to raise our concerns with them so that they are aware of the views of their constituents, and we can hold them to account if they don’t represent us in Parliament.
So, a bit like talking about and posting about climate change, get comfortable with becoming pen (email) pals with your MP.
You can find out who your MP, their contact details and how they vote here: www.theyworkforyou.com/
Your MP won’t always agree with you, they may not even reply (ours normally gets a reply or acknowledgement back to me within a couple of weeks or so), but it is common practice to log your email or letter. And so there will be a record that you have contacted them and what about. If enough of us do that, we’ll be harder to ignore, and if they go against what a majority of their constituents are contacting them about, they can’t claim to be ‘representing our interests and concerns’.
3. Change your Bank (& your Pension)
Did you know that the money in our current accounts, savings and pensions are often being used by UK high street banks to fund fossil fuel extraction?[v]
Did you know the last 12 months, the Big 5 UK high street banks – Barclays, HSBC, Santander, NatWest and Lloyds - provided $37 billion to fossil fuel companies?[vi]
And did you know that you can cut your carbon 21 times more than going veggie, giving up flying and switching energy, simply by making your pension green?[vii] Please keep taking Seven Simple Ways to Solve the Climate Crisis. Just make sure the money in your bank and pension doesn’t undo all the good you’re doing with everything else.
Here are four simple things you can do to make your money more climate-friendly:
- Check how green your bank is: https://bank.green/
- Tell your bank to stop financing fossil fuel expansion (choose your bank, and complete a pre-written email) https://makemymoneymatter.co.uk/hiddenrelationship/
- Tell your pension provider to go green (choose your provider, and complete a pre-written email) https://makemymoneymatter.co.uk/21x/
- Switch banks (or pensions) – use Ethical Consumer (£30 / year subscription) to see how banks rank on their environmental credentials, or check out a couple of these blogs: https://tred.earth/the-best-green-and-sustainable-banks-in-the-uk/ or https://greenecofriend.co.uk/ethical-banks-uk/
We changed our bank last year and it was surprisingly easy and relatively painless. Once we opened the new account, we told our new bank our old bank details, and all the direct debits and standing orders were changed across to our new bank.
Plus, there is a redirect from our old bank to our new bank that stays in place for 12 months from the switch date in case any random payments come into that account during the first year of the change. We haven’t had to write to any utility, credit card or mortgage company to tell them of the change. It was all done for us.
I’m currently in the process of taking old pensions from past jobs and transferring them to one I have with an ethical pension provider. I must fill in a form from my ethical provider with the details of my old pension, and they contact my old provider and transfer it all across.
And of course, there are so many other forms of climate action you can take - eating much less (red) meat and dairy, and more plants; hugely reduce (or give up) the flights you take; or joining a climate group. 18 months ago I joined Parents for Future - go check them out.
References & Further Reading
[ii] https://www.yesmagazine.org/issue/what-the-rest-of-the-world-knows/2020/11/03/how-social-change-happens & https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-behavior-spreads/201905/the-25-percent-tipping-point-social-change