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Jaclyn McCosker

How To Write To Your MP About Climate Action

How To Write To Your MP About Climate Action

The world is burning down, and we need immediate action. We’re reaching the tipping point of this crisis where if a political party said “we’ll ban blue eyed women from public spaces” I’d probably still vote for them if they had a good climate action policy. This is urgent. Some argue we’re past the point of no return, while some scientists are saying we can still mediate some damage within the next 10 years and potentially save humanity. This means we are still obligated to act today. Right now.

Along with radically changing the way we live and consume as individuals, collective community action is going to be an unavoidable part of our lives moving ahead. When the governments don’t reflect our interests and there’s too much confusion about the science to get everyone voting is unison, those that are well-informed of the climate crisis have a moral obligation to ban together and do whatever it takes to increase awareness, pull society into formation and demand a coordinated response that will save life on Earth.

Writing to your Member of Parliament is an easy entry point into climate action. We’re all going to need to become activists whether we like it or not, and writing a letter is a low-risk, affordable, accessible and private action we can all take. Whatever your barrier to activism is whether it’s location, finances, disability, mental illness, spare time, career considerations, or any other reason you’ve hesitated from action so far, we can all email a letter.

But maybe you’ve never written to a politician before and the thought kind of scares you. I’m certainly not the most involved in politics but I first wrote to Prime Minister John Howard when I was a pre-teen about caged eggs and how it was really past time we put a ban on that. I’ve met a couple of Senators and MPs in Parliament House, social mixers or at other events, and I’ve made awkwardly long eye contact in too-close of a proximity with Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia. So now, I just don’t pick up on that air of mystique or authority around politicians anymore.

Our politicians are just people elected as public servants, and their job is to listen to the people they represent, present those views to Parliament, and make good decisions on our behalf. They are paid a fortune to listen to what we want and defend our interests.

So, it’s time to tell them very clearly what it is we want them to do.

How do I write to my MP?

Find your representative here: https://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members. Click into their name to access their contact details.

Snail mail is the primary form of contact, but if like me and writing from overseas you can check their personal website or Facebook page for their email address if it’s not listed on the Australian Parliament website. If emailing, it’s important you include your postal address (and phone number if possible) because your MP will only respond by letter.

I typed my letter in Word and attached it as a PDF to an email, labelling the document as “Jaclyn McCosker - constituent letter” because MP’s will only respond to their own constituents.

When addressing a Member of Parliament in a letter protocol is to open with “Dear Mr/Mrs Suchandsuch” and to sign your letter “Yours faithfully”. (No matter how faithful or not you may be to this person.)

When addressing the envelope to mail your letter, you simply add “Mr/Mrs Suchandsuch, MP”.

What do I write to my MP?

When writing, I keep things personalised to both myself and my MP. This really separates a good constituent letter from those one-click virtual campaigns that politicians do not respond to.

Here, I’ve included the actual letter I emailed to my MP last week. I’m no expert on ways to engage your MP’s emotions, sway their opinion or ensure a response, but maybe things I’ve said could spark your own ideas and your own reasons for writing to them.

As a Central Queenslander where our main income is coal and gas, you can see how I’ve tailored this letter not just to my experiences as a millennial Gladstone woman, but also to the needs of my electorate and my MP’s political and economic interests.

I think it’s key to end on the question of what your MP is promising to Queensland, and mention that you expect a response because this is an actionable letter they are expected to engage with as my elected representative and public servant.

Dear Mr O’Dowd,

I’m a Gladstone-born and raised woman, and this year I turn 28 which is the average age for Australian women to have their first child. But like a majority of women, I’m questioning whether it’s safe to start a family while Australia doesn’t have a climate action policy.

Australia has failed to meet promises we’ve made on the international stage, even as this past summer was our hottest on record with more than 200 extreme weather events reported around the country. I am proud of our states’ agriculture and reef tourism, but both those industries are doomed to fail because of global warming.

As a Gladstone kid, I grew up snorkelling the reef on the weekend. Today, over 50% of that reef is dead and ocean fish are predicted to be extinct before 2050. Once the reef has died off and increasingly extreme weather events devastate Far North Queensland and flood the coast, I’m unsure what will be left for us besides mass welfare dependence and memories of how great our state used to be.

When we consider the income of coal exports, I’d like to know the government has a plan to respond to China and India’s decreasing imports as they divest towards renewables. With the future economy based in renewables, will Australia respond and secure a seat at the table for us to compete? With Gladstone’s weather and population of skilled tradesmen, we’re a prime location to approve the proposed solar farms that will bring jobs to the community and defend our position as a major producer of energy for the state.

I’d like to see a strong economic policy that recognises climate change as an unavoidable reality to retain our international reputation. I do not want to see low-income and middle-income countries overtake us and leave Australia behind. I do not want to be in competition with developing countries scrambling for resources because Australia already has the wealth and technology to decrease the risks of climate change with renewable energy policies. I want to be a strong economic player in the emerging economy.

Like the majority of people under 35 I’ll be voting on any candidates’ stance on climate until Australia has an appropriate strategy to protect the lives and livelihoods of Queenslanders. Frankly, other policies don’t matter if we aren’t prepared for extreme weather and the end of fossil fuels. My vote will go to the candidate that is willing to use their contact with Federal Ministers to advocate for a sensible climate action plan.

I’d like to request that the electorate of Flynn be adequately represented with a guaranteed vote for climate action policies in the House of Representatives, and unwavering support for proposals such as Aldoga and Rodds Bay Solar Farms. Is this the kind of promise you can make to Queensland?

I look forward to your response as I consider my position ahead of the next election. 

Yours faithfully,
Jaclyn McCosker

Remember, you can speak firmly on climate change because the science is settled and it’s expected that any representative in Parliament is educated enough to be spoken to as an adult in this way. And also remember, you can remind them that you will be voting based off their response. It needs to be crystal clear that the climate will be the issue in every election between now and the extinction of humankind.

Of course, there’s a while before the next election now, but we don’t have three years to wait before taking action again. I expect my MP to support a climate action policy immediately. This week. Today. If not, I expect him to be able to address why he’s failing us. So I wrote a letter right after the election, and it probably won’t be the last time he hears from me.

Let me know if you’ve written to your MP, whether they’ve responded and any tips you have for someone that may be doing this for the first time!

Thanks to everyone that is turning up for the planet.

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