Advocacy and Engagement

We can all take action in our communities to help prepare for climate change impacts and reduce the pollution that causes it. These actions, in turn, can protect our health and provide us with a greater sense of security and self-efficacy. Ideas to get started today are below.

Audience
There are Many Ways To Invite Participation

You can make a big difference in bringing about climate solutions by inviting others to learn more and participate. Involving others is also a great way to strengthen bonds in your neighborhood and community. 

Engage People Closest to You 

  1. Share ClimateRx with friends and family to remind them that you care about their health.

  2. Distribute handouts either in person or online, to provide those you care about with opportunities to be part of the solutions in their homes and neighborhoods, communities, workplaces, or with policymakers.

  3. Discuss the benefits that clean energy offers to our climate and health with friends and neighbors, and encourage them to support clean energy programs and ballot initiatives.

Get Involved in Your Community

  1. Support solutions to reduce and prevent further climate change. Vote for ballot initiatives that help to reduce climate impact.

  2. Join an existing group working on climate solutions. Get involved with a group that is already working on climate change, whether it is a non-profit, a professional association, a faith group, or another entity. 

  3. Take the lead in organizing something that brings people together, such as a neighborhood tree planting effort or community event devoted to designing or implementing a local climate solution.

  4. Start a community resilience project. Bring neighbors together to map out plans for strengthening the community against disaster events as well as caring for each other in the aftermath of a disaster. Gather a diverse and inclusive team of stakeholders to create a shared vision, map out needs of each household, catalog local resources, identify gaps in services, and create a manageable plan. 

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Engage your Profession

  1. Share ClimateRx with colleagues to help them make the connection between caring for their health and our climate.

  2. Distribute handouts either in person or online, to provide colleagues with opportunities to be part of the solution in their homes and neighborhoods, communities, workplaces, or with policymakers.

  3. Join a "green team" (or start one!)Work to establish or strengthen programs to make your office more energy efficiency, reduce waste, switch to environmentally friendly supplies, and if possible, switch to renewable energy like wind or solar or use electric vehicles for your fleet. 

  4. Discuss the connection between climate and health with your coworkers or through a presentation at your professional association's meeting. Use this 5 Steps Guide for Effective Climate Communications to help.

Advocate with Elected Officials
You and your neighbor's capacity to reduce disaster risk and be part of the solution to climate change are shaped by policies and decisions made by those in power at the community, state, and federal levels. You have more power than you think in helping to shape how your community prepares for and helps to stave of climate change. Your elected officials need to hear from you about the concerns you have about the health impacts of climate change, and your expectations for them to bring about ambitious and equitable solutions.

 

Ask your local elected officials to strengthen community resilience. Ask them to:

  1. Expand disaster response and resiliency plans to ensure all residents are considered and cared for;

  2. Strengthen programs and social infrastructure like parks and readily accessible cooling centers (which also increase community cohesion);

  3. Address disparities to bring greater justice and equity to community development, housing, siting, access to food, nature and services;

  4. Involve the community in planning (particularly community groups who have faced historic discrimination and disinvestment), and ensure cultural connections and traditions are preserved in the process;

  5. Strengthen health and mental health services, including making them more accessible and affordable;

  6. Update physical infrastructure including municipal services and healthy access to nature;

  7. Ensure there is a trusted and effective warning and communication system for disasters, inclusive of plans for reaching and supporting people living with disabilities;

  8. Train people who will serve the community during a disaster, and;

  9. Prepare and respond quickly for post-disaster recovery.


While resilience efforts are necessary to protect the health of people and communities in the face of climate change, they fall short of addressing the problem at its root. Rapid transitions to clean energy and transportation, sustainable infrastructure, and sustainable agricultural practices are critical, requiring multilevel governance, policy instruments, institutional capacity, and investment — inclusive of justice, equity, and health considerations. Meaningful local climate solutions are within reach and can be achieved.

 

Ask your local elected officials to accelerate climate solutions by:

  1. Making a visible climate commitment, and regularly communicate progress toward it;

  2. Engaging the community in the planning for solutions (particularly community groups who have faced historic discrimination and disinvestment);

  3. Increasing energy efficiency of government buildings, and helping small businesses and residents do the same with programs to aid and incentivize this work;

  4. Rapidly transitioning to clean energy in government buildings and offer the choice of affordable clean energy to residents;

  5. Expanding accessible public transit with clean energy options and give incentives for residents to use it.

  6. Installing ample charging stations for electric vehicles, and communicating programs for low income electric vehicle purchasing or rebates.

  7. Ensuring residents can easily and safely walk, roll, or bike with clearly designated areas, education, and incentives. 

  8. Bolstering access to high quality food through local environmentally friendly agriculture, community gardening, programs to provide gardening supplies to residents, farmers markets, food pantries, education, and training programs for youth and others.

Ask statewide and federally elected officials to accelerate climate solutions by:

  1. Passing laws to limit the pollution that harms our health and causes our climate to change.

  2. Making policies and investments that rapidly expand affordable and accessible clean energy, electric vehicles and transportation, sustainable public transit, sustainable agriculture, sustainable and affordable housing, community resilience and disaster preparedness, and help to make a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuel use.

  3. Holding polluters accountable, and refraining from accepting campaign funding from polluting organizations.

Prepare to speak with an elected official

Moving policy makers to tackle climate change can be a rewarding task. Your voice and your personal story can make a difference. When officials hear from their constituents, they are moved to focus on certain issues. You can make climate change one of those!

  1. Prepare by reading this handout.

  2. Find your elected leaders for your city, state, and federally.

  3. Look for local connections and leverage points. Find out their track record on environmental issues using this scorecard or by searching online. Many things that address climate change, like greenways and electric car charging plans, are also local solutions. Help officials make the connections.

  4. Prepare your message. Use this sample script as a starting point. Refer to the 5 Steps for Effective Climate Communications to strengthen your message.

  5. Be persistent and clear, and use several means of communication. Elected officials are busy. Use phones, email, their websites or Facebook pages, social media and local newspapers. Connect right before they vote on a climate issue, so your ideas will be fresh in their mind.

  6. When you send an email, put your ask in the subject line. Officials sort their email by issue and often count supporters on each side of an issue. Be clear in your subject line what action or vote you are supporting so that you can be part of that count. Form letters are the least effective.

  7. Tell a personal story that brings the issue home. Choose issues you care about, and when you speak at a council or commission meeting you’ll make an impression that officials will remember.

  8. Say thank you. When your representative does the right thing, acknowledge their actions, and show gratitude.

  9. BONUS: watch an example video of someone preparing for and calling their elected official from the faith forum of the American Climate Leadership Summit.

  10. To take your advocacy farther, connect with local and national climate advocacy organizations to get involved in their climate advocacy efforts.

Get Trained as a Climate Ambassador

Ready to take conversations, action and advocacy for healthy climate solutions up to the next level?  You have several four-hour training options offered by ecoAmerica, which you can do online and on your own time. Whether you want to take the training that focuses on engaging in your local community, connecting with your faith community, or as a health professional, you will strengthen your knowledge about climate change, working for climate solutions, and how to speak and advocate on the issue with confidence and success. The training is FREE and comes with presentation resources and an invitation to join a community of practice and collaboration.