Module 3

Area of Expertise

Parliaments are representative institutions that should channel the voices and concerns of citizens and that should act and advocate on their behalf.  Where climate change is concerned, it may be difficult for legislators to balance technical and complex law-making with the need for inclusive and participatory processes.  Nevertheless, it is critical that parliamentarians are open to citizen feedback, and are able to pass on their concerns and questions.  With climate change and energy issues in particular, such ‘direct’ inputs can prove invaluable in assessing and understanding priorities and new or emerging needs.

Beyond this, strong and consistent communication on climate change is also crucial if citizens are to accept the urgent need for action.  Germany, the UK and Australia have seen varying levels of public dissent in the face of increased subsidies – and the resulting rise in energy bills - for renewable energy development.  China and India, two countries facing considerable climate threats in the form of extreme weather events, flooding and pollution-related health risks, are pouring resources into renewable energy but remain reluctant where cutting carbon emissions is concerned.  Bangladesh and the Small Island States, on the other hand, face more profound and immediate threats and have emerged, perhaps unsurprisingly, as early adopters of pilot initiatives.

Public opinion matters, and parliamentarians will not succeed in taking parliamentary action on climate change if there is little or no public support to do so. 

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Discussion Questions

- Ask your participants how they engage with their constituents.  Do they have a website, a newsletter, social media accounts?  Do they spend much time in their constituency or with their constituents?

- Do your participants communicate about climate change and energy issues?  Have constituents or civil society organisations approached them about these issues?  Have they received any concrete requests for action?

- What are the main points MPs should be sharing with their constituents regarding climate change? What are the key messages to get across?

- How can parliamentary outreach on climate change and energy issues be improved?  What could the parliamentary secretariat do, and what could parliamentary groups do?

- Ask your participants to propose one or two concrete steps they can take as MPs to strengthen their outreach and communication on climate change and energy. 

Parliamentary Action Points
  • Encourage citizen action: Petitions & Citizen Initiatives
  • Communicate about your policies
  • Launch a Dialogue with Youth
  • Inform your constituents
  • Engage stakeholders
  • Setting the example: going green

Further Resources

Scotland - Adapting to Climate Change: an Introduction for Public Sector Policy-Makers, Resource Managers and Practitioners

This document illustrates how decision-makers and other stakeholders can be sensitized to the inevitable impacts of climate change for their respective sector(s), and encourages them to develop constructive, sustainable solutions.  Publications such as these can be helpful to parliamentarians who want to raise awareness and promote positive action. 

Community Protocols for Environmental Sustainability: A Guide for Policymakers

This guide has been written to help policymakers and other stakeholders understand what community protocols are, why they are important, and how they can support their development and recognition within formal environmental legal and policy frameworks. It is also written for all interested in learning about community protocols, including: indigenous peoples and their communities and other local communities (ILCs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), researchers, industry, and those working in government at the local, national and international levels.