Did you know you can have a huge impact on climate action at your municipal level right now? Climate Emergency Action Plans have been adopted or are being considered by more than 500 cities, towns, counties, villages, and communities across the country.
These plans cover things that are within a municipality's responsibility (think public transit, zoning, urban/rural agriculture, water & sewage, etc.) - all of which are integral pieces of reducing emissions and creating more sustainable, equitable systems.
You can help by reminding your local elected officials that you want to see results - local governments are often the most responsive to voters asking questions and getting involved.
Here are three simple actions for you to consider:
One: Ask your local elected officials for a climate update
It's as easy as an email, and you don't need to have any background knowledge. Find your local representative's contact information (could be a town or city councillor, mayor, reeve, or other representative) and cut and paste this email message, adding your own words if you like.
I am one of your local constituents and a parent very concerned about the climate crisis and what it means for my kids.
I am writing to ask you for an update on what you are doing about reducing emissions in areas of local government jurisdiction, such as ending sprawl, encouraging active and public transportation, and promoting building efficiency. Is there a plan to cut emissions in half by 2030 and get to net zero by 2050? Can you share that plan with me?
I look forward to your reply.
Two: Learn about any local plans underway
If you want to go a bit further, learn about any local government climate plans already underway and what's happening with them. Do this by visiting the website of your local government and searching in the climate or environment section.
It may be a bit complex, so learning about it with others might be helpful - ask a friend or two to help with the sleuthing! Also check with local environmental or citizen groups - they may have summaries and recommendations about engaging with the plan that you can follow.
You don't have to become an expert in city management to understand or contribute to the plan. You already know the kind of sustainable, equitable, healthy community your kids deserve to grow up in.
Three: Provide input
Your local government may be inviting public input, and even if they aren't you can still give feedback anytime to your local councilor or mayor. Find the best way to make your voice(s) heard.
Email your elected official with your questions and concerns and ask for a reply.
Share an open letter to your city council on social media and encourage others to share their thoughts too (see this example from the For Our Kids/Parents for the Planet Ottawa-Gatineau group).
- Is there an opportunity to speak to/present at a council meeting? Check out For Our Kids member Jinhwa presenting to Vancouver City Council! (forward to the 4:23 mark of the video)
Raise your kids' voices: share their pictures, posters, photos, songs, or letters with your elected officials. They're the ones who will be most affected, so they should be heard.
As always, share what you're doing with us at hello [at] forourkids [dot] ca so we can amplify even further!
What if your community doesn't have a plan? Then get the ball rolling.
Get some parents/grandparents together and start a petition to have your local government recognize and declare a climate emergency, and commit to developing an action plan.
Lots of resources and ideas available here.