WHAT IS THE STUDENT-MP CLIMATE SURGERY?
On Friday 2 July 2021, GLOBE will be facilitating Student-MP Climate Surgeries across London. This year this will be a key component of the Schools Climate Summit held during London Climate Action Week (26 June - 4 July 2021), an annual event that GLOBE has been a founder partner of since its inception in 2019.
This section outlines the background and objectives of this unique initiative and explains how London MPs and students in their constituencies can become involved, with a view to improving democratic dialogue on climate change and on-the-ground outcomes.
On 20 August 2018, a young girl rode her bike to the Swedish Parliament and sat down on the cobblestones outside with her placard reading ‘School Strike’. Without knowing it, Greta Thunberg had launched a revolution.
Since then youth climate strikes have spread worldwide and the rise of youth activism has been a geo-political game-changer. With the right to vote for 16-year olds being a key demand of student Climate Strikers in the United Kingdom, how can young people's voice and calls for climate action be reflected in politics?
Across the world, youth climate strikers have taken to the streets on Fridays, giving rise to the #FridaysforFuture movement, with young people marching to centres of political power such as Parliament Square in the heart of London.
In the United Kingdom, however, Members of the House of Commons are typically not in Parliament on Fridays, but at their constituency surgeries, as Fridays are traditionally reserved for constituency business.
Mindful of this - and the need to connect student activism with political and civic education - in 2019, the legislators network GLOBE International, initiated the first ever Student-MP Climate Surgery in London. This first effort took place on Friday 5 July 2019 during London Climate Action Week 2019. This was the start of an annual effort to put a practical spin on #FridaysforFuture and support democracy in action.
There are 73 Members of Parliament in London. One in nine of every UK member of parliament is a London MP. This is the largest concentration for any region in the UK - and a severely under-leveraged resource for climate action.
Our Student-MP Climate Surgeries seek to change this and act as a test bed for effective youth civic engagement in similar democratic settings beyond London.
OUR OBJECTIVE is to bring London’s MPs together annually with students during London Climate Action Week to:
- improve awareness of the role of MPs in addressing climate change as part of student’s broader political and citizenship education,
- improve MPs understanding of the concerns and demands of young people on the climate and nature emergencies, and
- promote more responsive politics and catalyse practical collaborative cross-party action on climate change by London MPs, accelerating solutions and producing positive outcomes for London and beyond.
2021 & COP26– A BIG YEAR FOR CLIMATE ACTION
This year GLOBE will be holding the Student-MP Climate Surgery again during London Climate Action Week 2021 (26 June – 4 July 2021) - a major 'whole of society' mobilisation moment ahead of the UK-hosted UN Climate Summit in Glasgow in November.
The Student-MP Climate Surgery in London is an important feature of the youth engagement focus of the GLOBE COP26 Legislators Summit, held from 5-6 November at the Scottish Parliament - the largest gathering of global parliamentarians at COP26.
Ahead of COP26, GLOBE is partnering with Scotland's Children's Parliament to mobilise a similar Student-MP Climate Surgery on Friday 29th October. This Surgery will be held across Scotland with Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and Members of the UK Parliament (Westminster). The outcomes, pledges and calls to action from this youth mobilisation across Scotland will be shared on the opening day of the GLOBE COP26 Legislators Summit at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on Friday 5th November 2021.
The Student-MP Climate Surgery in London will be held on Friday 2nd July during London Climate Action Week. This year it will be an integral part of London’s debut Schools Climate Summit (Tuesday 29 June 2021), the first such event to bring schools together around the climate agenda. The brainchild of GLOBE International chief executive, Malini Mehra, the Schools Climate Summit calls on London’s 3500 schools to ‘think like a system, and act as a sector’ to help deliver the city’s ambitious 2030 net zero climate goals. It places schools at the heart of local climate action.
Supporting political education and civic engagement by young people, in particular in the lead-up to and at the UN Climate Summit COP26 (Glasgow, November 2021), is a key objective of GLOBE International’s educational efforts.
The Student-MP Climate Surgery also gives practical effect to the Lesson Plan ‘Writing to your MP’ developed as part of the LCAW London Climate Curriculum by GLOBE International, World’s Largest Lesson and London Sustainable Schools Forum, in partnership with Unicef and support from UNESCO.
QUESTIONS FOR MPs
The Student-MP Climate Surgery puts students in the driving seat. It's an opportunity for young people to ask their London MP what they are doing about the climate emergency and to hold them to account. For example, by asking...
- In December 2015, world leaders signed the Paris Climate Agreement and made a pact with citizens to deliver on its promises. Is your MP aware of the Paris Agreement and the full range of commitments made?
- In June 2019 the UK House of Commons declared a climate emergency and adopted a Net Zero law on carbon emissions. What does your MP think of the Net Zero commitment and what do they see as their role in delivering it on the ground?
- Is your local MP supporting private member bills such as the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill (CEE) bill?
- Does the local constituency have a climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? What will Net Zero policies mean for local schools, jobs, homes, health, air quality and transport options? How will they be funded? Has your MP raised any of these issues with local or central government or in parliament
- How are climate impacts affecting your local constituency? Have local climate risk assessments been done? What are local vulnerabilities and inequalities facing different communities and how are they being addressed? Has your MP raised any of these issues with local or central government or in parliament?
- What lessons have been learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic for the Climate crisis?
- What is your MP doing to ensure recovery from COVID-19 integrates the UK's climate commitments and promotes a Green, Fair and Resilient Recovery?
- How is your MP engaging with the UK's hosting of the UN climate summit (COP26) in Glasgow in November 2021? What are they doing to raise UK’s domestic ambition for acting on climate change?
- What is your local MP doing to support more vulnerable nations and communities overseas and help deliver the promises of the Paris Agreement as a precondition for success at the Glasgow climate summit?
VALUE FOR STUDENTS & MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT ALIKE
This event turns MP's traditional Friday surgery into a platform for climate dialogue and political education for young people. Empowering students to raise questions with their MPs directly is an exercise in practical citizenship and democratic accountability.
For MPs the Student-MP Climate Surgery is a valuable opportunity to interact with concerned young people on climate change, learn about local concerns and respond to them.
Initiated as a pilot during London Climate Action Week 2019, it is intended as a mutually beneficial two-way dialogue and learning opportunity, making visible young people's concerns and identifying solutions.
It builds on GLOBE International's educational engagement with schools at LCAW 2019, created in close collaboration with the World's Largest Lesson and London Sustainable Schools Forum. The lessons plans for teachers produced conclude with an exercise to write a Letter to their MP which dovetails with this effort.
** HOW TO TAKE PART IN THE STUDENT-MP SURGERY ON FRIDAY 2 JULY 2021 **
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
1. Please contact schools in your constituency and inform them of your willingness to hold a Student-MP Climate Surgery with interested students at your constituency office, or a suitable location such as a school or community hall, as part of the Schools Climate Summit and London Climate Action Week.
2. Many schools in your constituency will have been informed of the Schools Climate Summit by London Councils and the Greater London Authority, both Summit partners, and may already be aware of the Student-MP Climate Surgery.
3. Please let us know by email <MP-Surgery@globelegislators.org> if you are hosting a Student-MP Climate Surgery and we would be happy to provide further support as necessary.
4. Please spread the word from your social media accounts, announcing that you are participating in #LondonClimateActionWeek and the #StudentMPClimateSurgery as part of the #SchoolsClimateSummit - copying to our twitter accounts @Globe_intl @climate_london @london_climate We will help amplify on social media.
1. Find your MP using this link from our friends at They Work For You. This helpful guide from the UK Parliament explains what MPs do. You must be a constituent of the MP - i.e. reside in their constituency - in order to write to them.
2. Email your MP with your request to meet with them on Friday 2nd July 2021 as part of the Student-MP Climate Surgery. Please mention this is being held as part of the Schools Climate Summit during London Climate Action Week (26 June – 4 July). Please use any of the questions suggested above or add your own to your request. Your authentic voice is the best.
Please use the suggested subject heading 'Meeting request FRI 2 JULY- London Climate Action Week' and copy your email to us at <MP-Surgery@globelegislators.org>
3. Consider meeting your MP with fellow students and accompanied by a teacher/ appropriate adult to ensure safeguarding requirements are met.
4. Given the demands on MPs time and COVID-19 restrictions, meetings may be virtual via MS Teams or Zoom. We are encouraging MPs meeting virtually with groups of students, or where possible, appropriately socially-distanced at suitable venues.
5. Please spread the word from your social media accounts, announcing that you are participating in #LondonClimateActionWeek and the #StudentMPClimateSurgery as part of the #SchoolsClimateSummit - copying to our twitter accounts @Globe_intl @climate_london @london_climate We will help amplify on social media.
6. Please write-up / report back on your meeting with your MP and share widely within your school and community. We would love a copy and for you to keep us in touch with your progress.
We’d love to know how things went! Please let us know – your experience will be helpful as part of our ongoing efforts to improve democratic engagement, share good practice and encourage better practice.
We will be in touch with London’s MPs and convene information and networking events to promote learning, collaborative effort and leadership for climate action in and beyond London. These annual Student-MP Climate Surgeries during London Climate Action Week will be a key focal point for reporting on and auditing local constituency action.
Any questions/ comments/ feedback & suggestions? Please drop us a line at <MP-Surgery@globelegislators.org>
Thank You and Good Luck!
1. The UK COP26 Presidency is developing a Schools Pack to encourage engagement in ahead of COP26. Look here for further details.
2. The Committee on Climate Change is the UK's independent adviser on tackling climate change and produces excellent reports and data on climate change that can be accessed here.
3. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the principal international body tasked with climate change and has a huge amount of relevant resources here.
4. Check out our fabulous resources produced for the LCAW Schools Climate Summit here. They include the London Climate Curriculum, Guidance on communicating climate change with children by the Climate Psychology Alliance, and a treasure trove of Partner Resources by our many partners including the Royal Meteorological Society, Transform our World, Youth Climate Summit, ReBoot the Future, and others.