The climate and nature crises are urgent now, but without a fair and green recovery, my future looks bleak.
Nearly 300 MPs engaged in over 300 digital meetings with constituents after more than 12,000 people across the UK signed up to take part in the world’s biggest ever virtual lobby.
Attendees called for a fair and green recovery post Covid-19, demanding immediate action to protect climate and nature, while providing support for the most vulnerable at home and abroad before it’s too late.
Frustration among the British public is increasing after the lack of progress following the success of last year’s historic The Time is Now mass lobby. The event in 2019 saw thousands of people travel to Westminster to lobby their MPs in person on the need to tackle climate change and nature’s decline at home and overseas.
The Time Is Now Virtual Lobby was coordinated during lockdown by The Climate Coalition and its member organisations, including RSPB, WWF, the Women’s Institute, Woodland Trust, Tearfund and alongside Green Alliance. The event also features support from the likes of TV presenter Chris Packham, singer Ellie Goulding, Gogglebox star Kate Bottley and actor Cel Spellman.
Constituents took their message of a green and fair recovery to their MPs as they engage in almost 300 virtual meetings.
Attendees will be pushed for MPs to urge the government to unleash investment in climate and nature-friendly infrastructure, creating green jobs and supporting millions out of the recession.
They also demanded support for those most vulnerable to climate change in developing countries.
Supporters were ‘zoomed' across Westminster bridge to Parliament Square on a fleet of ad-bicycles featuring their images and their asks for MPs. This virtual approach to lobbying is a UK first due to the requirements for continued social distancing.
As thousands of attendees attend the virtual lobby for a fair and green recovery, polling of the British public demonstrates widespread support for Government action. Two thirds (67 percent) think we are at a turning point in our history and they want their local MP to support strong and ambitious plans on climate change.
Alongside constituents lobbying their MPs digitally for the first time, attendees of the virtual lobby joined the ‘Main Stage’, a day of Zoom events and activities.
Events featured well-known figures such as TV presenter Chris Packham, actor Cel Spellman and environmental journalist Lucy Siegle, as well as experts discussing the green recovery, and a panel discussion on why the recovery needs to include diverse voices.
The virtual lobby came at a time when the government is experiencing increased pressure from business and NGOs to commit to a green recovery post Covid-19, protecting nature, building economic resilience and protecting the most vulnerable in the UK and abroad.
Virtual activism is also on the rise with many people on board with adopting digital methods of lobbying and putting pressure on MPs to bring about change. 66 percent of the public like the idea of their MPs becoming more accessible and available online.
Joe Brindle, 18, a climate striker from Devizes who is attending the virtual lobby, said: “As we look to the future and how we rebuild after the Coronavirus crisis, it's essential that decision-making takes into account young people.
"The climate and nature crises are urgent now, but without a fair and green recovery, my future looks bleak. Let's ensure green recovery unleashes spending that prioritises green education and jobs to kickstart the economy oftomorrow.”
Chris Packham, TV presenter, conservationist and RSPB Vice-President, commented: “We don’t want to get back to ‘normal', because it was abjectly abnormal. We don't want business as usual because it was bad business. And our essential response to Covid-19 has proven that everyone, the entire world, can make changes when it needs to - and it needs to now.
"This tragedy has given us pause for thought and it’s clear that people have heeded its ominous warning and want to rebuild their lives with a properly sustainable environment and secure future."
Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from the Climate Coalition.