Voting in an election this month? #voteclimate!

Voting is one of the most powerful things we can do to address the climate crisis. This is our chance to elect representatives that will implement policies which are urgently needed to completely transform the economy. I am super excited to vote in two elections in the next fortnight. The Australian federal election and, for the first (and possibly only) time the EU election!

If you are reading this blog, I’m guessing you care somewhat about the climate crisis and the environment, so please make your vote count! I was astounded to read that only about a third of eligible voters in the UK voted in the EU elections in 2014. (For comparison, in Australia we have the wonderful tradition of forcing people to engage with politics through compulsory voting, so at the last federal election 95% of eligible people voted.)

So what should you do?

  1. Educate yourself on which parties and candidates have sensible climate policies
  2. Vote for them!
  3. Tell all your family and friends (and random people on the internet) how important this is.

Below I have set out some more specific information on what this looks like for the upcoming Australian and EU elections. Have a read, ask questions, share widely and most importantly, vote!!

Australian federal election

I was going to write a guide on how to #voteclimate in the Australian federal election, but Sarah Wilson has already done one. Check it out here!

A few key points to note:

  • We have preferential voting! Even if you think that someone isn’t going to get in, it is worth voting for them because (a) they get some funding and (b) your vote will still go to the next person on your list.
  • Look up the policies of different parties beforehand. There are almost 50 parties running candidates in the Senate, so it can be very confusing. Luckily have put together some really handy guides that show the environment and climate policies of all parties.
  • Linked to the above, there are some sneaky parties with great sounding names that may have policies that you don’t agree with. For example, be aware that the party ‘Climate Action! Immigration Action! Accountable Politicians!’ (so ambiguous!) is actually just a rebranded Online Direct Democracy and the Sustainable Australia party is more concerned with stopping over development and population growth.
  • I realise that I’m in the minority in that I enjoy the strange torture of numbering 82 boxes for the Senate vote (and then spending 15 minutes being paranoid and checking that I haven’t missed a number). If you vote above the line, you only have to number at least six boxes and if you vote below the line you only have to number at least 12 boxes. Because some parties run six candidates, you might have to make less decisions these days by voting below the line, because you will have filled in enough boxes by the time you complete two parties.
  • If it is all too much, just grab a how to vote card from someone that has decent policies and follow that. Decide for yourself who you think that is, but Independents for Climate Action Now and the Greens are the only groups that get 5 stars in the rating. Just putting it out there.

In other exciting news, you can now find out where to get a vegetarian #democracysausage. As someone who has been vegetarian for longer than I’ve been able to vote, I really appreciate the effort. This map has got you covered!

EU election in the UK

Voting isn’t compulsory in the UK, but that doesn’t mean it is any less important. However, it does add one more step to the process of voting for action on climate:

  1. Decide to vote!!
  2. Educate yourself on which parties and candidates have sensible climate policies
  3. Vote for them!
  4. Tell all your family and friends (and random people on the internet) how important this is.

Decide to vote!

Gosh, this is so important! Candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are the inspiring examples of what can happen when people that don’t usually engage with politics are empowered to do so.

Elections in the UK are on a Thursday (what…who has time for a sausage sizzle during the week?) and you have to go to a specific polling booth (again, what is this craziness, it means you can’t just duck out and vote in a lunch break easily).

But, if getting to a polling station is too difficult you can apply for a postal vote or get someone else to vote for you by proxy. It is too late now to apply for a postal vote, but you have until Wednesday to apply to vote by proxy. (I’m going to be doing a proxy vote for someone that is out of the country during the election and while it means I have to go to two different polling booths I don’t mind at all because voting is important!)

Vote for people with sensible climate policies

Who can you vote for?

First of all, you need to work out who you can vote for – here is a list of all the different candidates by region. Overall, the UK gets to elect 73 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). The number of MEPs are based on population, so in Wales we get to vote for four MEPs.

Voting is rather a bit simpler than Australian elections, all you have to do is pick a party to vote for!

What are their policies?

Luckily there are only eight different parties with candidates in Wales. So it has been quite manageable to research each one and find out their policies. I haven’t found any nice policy comparisons or rankings, please let me know if I’m missing a trick. In the meantime I have linked their names to the policy statements I could find – check them out below.

  • Change UK – Their manifesto includes six actions related to climate change, including agreement with the recent Committee on Climate Change advice to target net zero emissions by 2050. “We are in a climate emergency. Climate change is accelerating and the Government’s action falls short of what is required. Difficult decisions need to be made now, because how we live, the goods we consume and the energy we generate will need to be transformed.”
  • Conservative – Climate change gets five mentions in their 2017 manifesto of 88 pages (hmmm…). On page 39 – “We will continue to lead international action against climate change”. They don’t seem to have released a manifesto for this election yet, perhaps they have been distracted with other things.
  • Green – It doesn’t come as a surprise that one of their three policy areas is to recharge the fight against climate change. “There is a Climate Emergency and we must be Carbon Neutral by 2030.”
  • Labour – One of their seven policy areas is tackling climate change and protecting our planet. “We will demand that the EU follows the pledge of the next UK Labour government, to commit to 60% of the UK’s energy supply from renewable or low-carbon sources by 2030, and net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.”
  • Liberal Democrats – They have a number of environmental policies, with an emphasis on working in cooperation with the UK’s EU partners. “Liberal Democrats were the first major political party to call for a zero-carbon Britain; we believe this target must be met by 2045, contributing to a zero-carbon EU by 2050.”
  • Plaid Cymru – One of their five key pledges directly relates to the environment. “A Green New Deal – combating climate change by becoming 100% self-sufficient in renewable electricity by 2035 and rolling out a £3 billion home energy efficiency programme.”
  • The Brexit Party – They don’t seem to have a climate policy, or any policy statement at all…I guess the name says it all.
  • UKIP – There isn’t a mention of climate change in their 2-page manifesto. It is all (rather predictably) Brexit-related.

If you live in London or the South East, there are a group of Climate and Ecological Emergency Independents that you can vote for. Many of them come from the Extinction Rebellion movement and have similar aims, including a zero carbon Europe by 2030.

I would recommend having a read through all the policy statements, however from the headline commitments a vote for the Green Party or the Climate and Ecological Emergency Independents would be the strongest vote for climate action!

I hope you are all feeling empowered and excited to #voteclimate in the upcoming elections!

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