A new generation of climate leaders is emerging in parliament

plantarrow150As battles continue across government over the strength of environmental policies and the transition to a greener economy, here at Green Alliance we’ve been working with a number of convinced, committed and engaged MPs from all three main parties under our Climate Leadership Programme.

Since 2009 we’ve worked with over 50 MPs on the science, policy and politics of climate change, and how this links with key constituency issues. We’ve held dinners and workshops with climate science experts including Sir Brian Hoskins from the Royal Society and  Lord Adair Turner from the Committee on Climate Change, as well as businesses such as Unilever, Scottish Power and Good Energy.

We’ve created a process which helps them come to their own views on climate change and gives them the opportunity to develop their own  distinctive interest in the low carbon agenda. Many of them have begun to apply their understanding in their own constituency and some of them have already shown national climate leadership.

Linking local and national policy
The Programme has featured two in depth constituency focused projects with small groups of MPs, making links between the local and national agendas. Working with Guy Opperman MP, Charlotte Leslie MP and Ian Swales MP, we ran constituency workshops on the Green Deal, helping the MPs and their constituents think through how it could be designed to work better for them. Our policy insight, Getting a good deal from the Green Deal, which set out the key recommendations that emerged from these sessions, fed into the government’s consultation and, with the three MPs, we met with Greg Barker MP to discuss its key messages.

Working with Damian Hinds MP, Martin Vickers MP and Julian Huppert MP, our second project focused on what the localism agenda means for climate change action at the constituency level. Our pamphlet, Unlocking local leadership on climate change, featured pieces from each MP on how government can link two crucial aims: tackling climate change and empowering local areas.

Climate leaders
Over the last two years we’ve seen many of the MPs we’ve worked with taking ownership of these issues: Duncan Hames as PPS to Chris Huhne and then Ed Davey, and now as PPS to the Deputy Prime Minister; Jo Swinson as a BIS minister; Laura Sandys as PPS to Greg Barker; Chuka Umunna as shadow secretary of state for business, innovation and skills; Chi Onwurah as a shadow BIS minister and now as a shadow Cabinet Office minister; Toby Perkins as a shadow BIS minister; Luciana Berger, Tom Greatrex and Julie Elliott as part of the shadow energy and climate change team; and a number as members of relevant select committees.

We’re now kicking off the next phase of the programme, keeping the constituency focus that worked well over the last 12 months. Over the next two years we’ll work on projects with small groups of MPs from all three main parties. We’re currently refining project ideas around sustainable local transport, city deals and green growth, low carbon industries and the green economy, local energy planning, community owned energy, and climate adaptation and impacts. We’ll finalise the details soon, but in the meantime, watch this space – there is a small but committed group of  climate leaders emerging from the latest generation of MP’s.

The Climate Leadership Programme is funded by the Pure Climate Foundation and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in 2013/14. We are grateful for their support.

Hannah Kyrke-Smith tweets at @hannahks1, and follow Green Alliance at @GreenAllianceUK.

About Hannah Kyrke-Smith

Hannah is a policy adviser on the Political Leadership theme at Green Alliance, delivering our Climate Leadership Programme for MPs, which aims to give parliamentarians the knowledge and skills they need to lead on a proactive and ambitious climate change agenda. She also coordinates Green Alliance’s work with NGOs, helping to manage our work with the RSPB, Greenpeace, WWF, Christian Aid and others. Hannah ran Green Alliance's project on sustainable living in tower blocks in 2012, working with residents in tower blocks across London to identify ways in which green living can be supported.
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