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Be the voice for the climate at in-person election campaign meetings
Asking politicians the hard questions
Welcome! Thanks for your interest in being a voice for the climate at local election meetings.
With the general election coming up on October 14th, MPs and candidates often hold meetings, where they meet the public (that’s you!), talk about their plans for the election, and answer questions from anyone in the audience.
This is where we come in. As members of the voting public, it’s important that politicians know there are lots of people out there who are keen to vote for strong climate action. That’s why asking questions at a public meeting is so powerful - it gets climate action on the mind of the politician and prompts them to make a commitment (whether for or against) that’s on record. What’s more, it gets everyone else in the audience thinking about climate change too!
This has worked really well at local council meetings. Climate activists in Queenstown have been going along to the public forums at local council meetings for years, and calmly & politely reminding councilors that their decisions have a big impact on our future. This has been successful in shifting the views of the councilors over time.
📅 Pick an event
Start by choosing a local event to go to. Here are some handy compilations (thanks to the team at Don’t Subsidise Pollution for pulling these together):
Otherwise just check the social media of parties, or the event calendars on their websites. We’ve listed the priority based on how supportive they are of climate action (the ones near the middle are highest priority because they’re not already supportive, but the audience might be persuadable):
National Party - highest priority, against equitable climate policy, talks a lot about hypothetical technofixes while supporting drilling for more oil
Labour Party (haven’t released events calendar yet) - have been flip-flopping on decisive action
Act Party - are very against evidence-based, equitable climate policy
NZ First - pretty against equitable climate policy/don’t seem to care about climate change at all
TOP Party - some strong climate policies but not always from an equitable lens
Te Pati Māori (haven’t released events calendar yet) - low priority, they have already committed to strong climate action
Green Party - low priority, they have already committed to strong climate action
💬 Prep a little intro
Think about how you would start your question at the meeting. Prepare a short, 2-sentence introduction about yourself, and why you care about climate change.
E.g. “My name is [NAME], and I’m a [student/teacher/farmer/plumber] living in [area]. I’m [worried/frustrated/angry/hopeful] about climate change because [reason].”
❓Pick 1-2 questions
From the list of questions further down this page, pick 1-2 questions. It might be one that’s most relevant to your local area, the issues that people seem to care most about, something you’ve seen in the news recently, or just one that you like.
You can have these on your phone, scribbled down on a piece of paper, or memorised if you’re feeling confident!
📹 On the day: bring a friend, and record!
Consider bringing a friend. It can always help to have a supporter!
They can also record/video you asking the question and/or the party giving an answer. This puts their answer “on the record”, which can be referred back to later to make sure politicians follow through on any commitments they make.
💡If asking a question is too much, it’s still impactful to show up holding a sign! It could say something like “Vote Climate”, or “Strong climate action now”. Both the party running the event, and the people in the audience, will see it.
💌Let us know how you go
Email us any photos, videos, or quotes that you get from the meeting to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also share on socials and tag @climateclubnz.
We have 6 years left to at least halve our emissions if we do not want to be caught in runaway climate collapse. What is your Party’s plan to halve our emissions in the coming 6 years?
Recent surveys reveal that around 80% of NZers want more urgent and effective action to both reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. So far, policy and action fall well short of what is required. Question: Why isn’t your party responding at the level required to both widespread public concern, and meeting the emission reduction targets we have set ourselves?
What are your Party’s strategies for dealing with the disproportionate power of industrial and other lobbyists, e.g. the oil industry, when there is such widespread public support for effective climate change action?
What specific carbon emission reduction initiatives, not just carbon offsets, are your party planning for the next few years? How much will they reduce NZ’s emissions by, and will that be sufficient to get on track to meet what we have signed up for in the Paris agreement?
Access to clean drinking water is a basic human right. Yet over the last decade, we’ve seen excessive nitrate levels - from too many cows and too much synthetic nitrogen fertiliser - pollute drinking water of rural communities, causing around 40 deaths per year, from bowel cancer alone. What will you do to protect rural drinking water from these cancer-causing nitrates?
We know that homegrown, community-based energy projects are effective at cutting emissions, and giving us autonomy over our own power systems, but only a handful of homegrown energy projects have been funded so far. If elected, will you massively increase funding for community-based energy projects, and assist in removing regulatory barriers that are holding them back? How, specifically, will you do this?
(Insert piece on why climate change or energy prices are important to you, then) - the Generator-retailers have made billions of dollars from keeping power prices high and fossil fuels on life support - will you consider an excess profit tax on the gentailers, to redistribute those ill-gotten profits?”
We’ve committed to the global methane pledge to cut New Zealand’s net greenhouse emissions by 50 percent by 2030. The science is clear that this requires cutting herd size, not just techno-fixes and incremental change. Do you commit to actually reducing methane emissions by implementing policies to reduce them by 2030?
If you think the ETS is the only climate lever, will you make agriculture participate and allow the ETS price to rise to above $100NZD per NZU (carbon credit), in order for it to create the appropriate financial incentives to drive real emissions reductions?
The Climate Change Commission advised to ban the sale of petrol vehicles by 2035 at the latest and 2030 ideally. Will you follow this advice?
The Climate Change Commission advised to ban the installation of new gas appliances in buildings. Will you ban gas in your term in government?
It’s clear from the extreme weather events worldwide that we can not be putting any more emissions into the atmosphere. Do you commit to banning all new oil and gas exploration, which profits off the climate crisis and makes it even harder for us to achieve a safe climate future?