Making a difference in the places where we live is the most powerful way we can respond to the climate emergency. Climate change is a global problem with local solutions.

16 Mar 2020

Climate Action Groups up and down the country are working to build greener and fairer communities. By transforming their local areas, they're playing a vital role in driving the national and international change we so urgently need.

We’re seeing more widespread concern about climate change than ever before. Channel this energy by getting local people together to take action where you live.

The first thing we would usually suggest you do is to hold a public meeting to kick things off.

Please note that due to the risk of coronavirus, we're advising against organising any offline events for the time being.

You can read our most up-to-date guidance on coronavirus here.

Sorting the basics

1. Pick a venue that’s easy to get to and accessible to all

Not everyone drinks alcohol, so avoid pubs. Somewhere without wheelchair access won’t work either. A local café or community space could be your best bet – offering the relaxed space you need to get to know each other.

You could also try schools, student unions, public parks, offices, libraries, leisure centres, hotel dining rooms, or village halls.

2. Book the right date

Avoid faith, bank and school holidays when people aren't likely to be free.

3. Create a sign-up page

Host your event on Action Network to keep track of how many people are attending. Follow our step-by-step guide.

4. Promote, promote, promote

Ask friends to share on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Hand out leaflets on a busy high street or at a local train station. Leave flyers in local shops and restaurants.

The more diverse and inclusive your group, the more powerful it will be and the more influence it will have on decision-makers.

Consider groups and communities you could reach out to, like local businesses, farmers, unions, doctors, faith communities, and students.

Planning your agenda

Think about how you want to use the meeting space and the atmosphere you'd like to create.

Focus on the solutions more than the problems. Friends of the Earth's Climate Action Plan for government will help your group prioritise the type of actions you want to do.

Find more help and ideas on our Climate Action resource hub.

Example agenda for a 2 hour meeting

If this agenda works for you, great. Feel free to shape it to fit your needs.

(10 mins) Talk through the ground rules How will the space will work? What is the event for? What are the rules for ensuring respectful, well-organised meetings? (see facilitation guidelines below). Talk about the network of climate action groups around the country and how your combined actions can achieve big system change.

(40 mins) Discussion about climate change Let people share their feelings about climate change, why they are attending and what they hope to get out of it. This will help people get to know each other as well as framing the discussion.

(40 mins) Climate solutions focus Present and discuss the solutions to climate change. Reveal how other communities are taking action.

(30 mins) Action points Work out the next steps. Are you going to meet up again? Who will organise or host the next meet up? Who will attend? What will you discuss? How will you all stay in touch? Do you want to register as a climate action group? Do you want to get in touch with other climate action groups? Do you want to promote this more widely?

(5 mins) Close It’s nice to close with a recap of why everyone is here and the hope of what we can achieve together. You might want to suggest another location for further socialising too if people feel like it.

Facilitating your event

Poorly run meetings are frustrating and likely to put people off, no matter how committed they are to the cause. Become a successful facilitator by using these top tips.

1. Create a safe space

Hopefully your meetings will appeal to a diverse audience of people from many different backgrounds. Make everyone feel welcome and at ease to participate. Listen and understand the needs of participants, adjusting the meeting as necessary.

2. Set ground rules

Agree ground rules with everyone in attendance. Even really basic rules such as ‘listening when others are speaking’ are worthwhile. They help set an inclusive tone for the meeting and give you a reference point to return to should anyone break the rules.

3. Keep to time

If you you need more time to finish an agenda item, check in with the rest of the group first. You can always take the discussion online, over email or to the group’s social media channels.

4. Avoid one person dominating

When one or a few people dominate the discussion it limits how much others can input. In the worst cases it can alienate people and put them off attending. Keep an eye on who has spoken and encourage people who have not spoken to contribute.

More tips to create an inclusive event

Encourage everyone to:

  • Be thoughtful about personal power and privilege.
  • W.A.I.T. (Why am I talking? Why aren’t I talking?).
  • Notice when their behaviour negatively affects others.
  • Listen to understand before rushing to respond.
  • Avoid jargon and explain specialist language.
  • Be clear about what is confidential and what can be shared – "what’s learned here leaves here, what’s said here stays here".

Get people to join and stay

If you’re starting your group from scratch or looking for tips to boost your numbers – we’ve got you covered.

Get people to join:

1. Build your mailing list

Capture people’s contact information at your events and use social media to promote your mailing list. Make sure your online and offline mailing list is GDPR friendly. See how Action Network can help you do this.

2. Promote yourself

Plan a regular series of events and promote them to your mailing lists, inviting people to attend. More people will get involved and eventually your numbers will naturally grow and snowball.

3. Listen to people

Ask new people what they are interested in and why they want to be involved. It’s a great way to find out more about each other and build great relationships. It’s also a good way of finding out what people would like to achieve, what roles everyone might be drawn to and what you all want to make happen as a group.

If someone declines to join your group – or you get the feeling they are unsure – ask them if they'd like to stay in touch with what you’re up to by joining your mailing list. Let them know they are always welcome to get more involved, but don't pressure them.

Get people to stay:

1. Do things

People don’t want to sit in endless meetings.

2. Enjoy yourselves too

Great change comes from great relationships. Make it as much about socialising as it is about campaigning. Be friendly and positive and celebrate successes.

3. Keep your meetings light

It’s best not to get bogged down in process and minutes. People don’t want to feel like they are at work.

4. Provide opportunities to lead and follow

Some people will want to take on leadership roles, others will prefer to follow at a distance. It’s great to have a range of activities to make sure that no one is left feeling redundant.