We are already seeing the impacts of an unhealthy planet here in the UK. From flooding across the country to poor air quality (our largest environmental risk to public health), not to mention the widespread damage to both people and wildlife all around the world, often in the most vulnerable, marginalised communities.
Alongside the usual feelings of eco-anxiety, I’m fed up of being told that it’s my responsibility to reduce my impact on the environment. I’m overwhelmed by the never-ending ways to live ‘sustainably’ — as if a zero waste lifestyle and riding my bike will save the world — and what it will cost me. I’m also emotionally drained by protesting, seeing my friends get arrested for doing what they believe is the only way to make a difference. I will of course keep doing these things, but surely there’s another way to enact change?
Power power power
Think about who holds power in our world – who comes to mind? We often think of those working in the city, with huge amounts of money or influence. Well there’s also the Government, the Parliament, the Prime Minister, political party leaders, MPs and Mayors amongst many others – whose job it is to listen to us, and act on our behalf.
We might not think of ourselves as holding power, and a lot of people feel totally helpless in today’s current climate (quite literally) and disenchanted by our current political system, and I don’t blame them. But we do have power…we can vote!
Every five years, we can vote in general elections for the candidate we want our constituency to be represented by – aka our MP. Every four years, we vote in local elections for the candidate we want our local area to be represented by – aka our Councillor (although only around one third actually do and I’m definitely guilty of this). In some areas of England, we vote for a mayor e.g. the Mayor of London, and then you’ve got the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments as well as the Northern Ireland Assembly. Basically, that’s a lot of voting.
Speeding up government action for a healthy planet
I recently got involved with a UK wide project called The Commitment, which aims to speed up government action for a healthy planet. Speeding up, yes. Government action so far has been far too slow. Check out this Green Alliance report which found that politicians don’t always act on climate change because they feel under very little pressure from their constituents. This suggests we need to start being more vocal to our politicians, showing them what we want and celebrating when positive action has been taken. Check out this blog post on the benefits of taking a more personal approach with our MPs. They are humans after all.
The Commitment found that UK citizens want the Government to do more, but that they don’t trust them to act. So they are showing politicians that they have a clear mandate to stabilise the climate and restore the natural world. Not just the usual few (white, middle class ‘eco-warriors’), but the huge number of people, from every walk of life, who care about the health of their local environment and the planet as a whole.
Your Commitment, your vote for a healthy planet
By making The Commitment you:
✖️ Commit to vote in every election you are eligible to take part in (local and national) with a healthy planet at the heart of your decision
✖️ Explain, in your own words, why you are making your Commitment
✖️ Give details about who you are
It isn’t necessarily about changing your vote, but it tells the people you do vote for that you care about living on a healthy planet.
The more voices, the better. So, will you make your Commitment to vote for a healthy planet? It’s legal, it’s personal and it won’t take you longer than five minutes.
When you’ve made your Commitment, encourage others to do it too – check out this guide. It includes heaps of resources, from example social media posts to a template email you can send round to your friends/family/colleagues!