100 Days of Action FACT SHEET #5

Writing a Letter

In the Net Zero By 2050 -100 Days of Action campaign, we urge you to write a letter to an MP or newspaper, expressing your opinions about action on climate change, calling for net zero by 2050 or sooner, and discussing the government’s climate policies.  Writing a letter that raises political and public awareness of climate problems and solutions is a meaningful action.  This is particularly the case when you write to your MP, as this action shows the level of concern in your electorate.  The more letters are written, the more obvious it is to the political parties that they need to implement climate action. 

Writing to an MP

Here are some tips about writing to a Member of Parliament.

  • Make sure that you get their title and name right. This link will help you find your Representative/Senator and how to address them.
  • Keep your letter short and simple.
  • Introduce yourself, let them know if you live in their electorate and if you have any common connections.
  • If possible, write your letter in your own words.  If you are using a template from CCLA, then try to put in some points that are your own.
  • Be polite – MPs are like everyone else and don’t respond well to criticism, sarcasm or negativity.
  • Tell your MP how you feel but also tell them what you want them to do about it.
  • Put in a personal touch – a story is much more likely to be remembered. 
  • Provide your contact details – name, address, phone and email.
  • Be patient – you SHOULD receive a reply within a month.  If not, follow up and ask when you will be responded to.

More details on writing to your MP:  Tips on Writing to Your MP

Writing to an Editor

A letter to an editor is quite different to writing to an MP.  Editors receive thousands of letters every day, and make a decision within seconds of looking at your letter as to whether to publish it.  A good letter to the editor has the power to change the opinions of hundreds or even thousands of readers.  So to get your letter published, it needs to be brief and attention grabbing.

  • It needs to be current – either respond to an article in yesterday’s paper by midday the following day (and give full reference to it) or refer to a current issue.
  • It needs to be clever – use a play on words or humour to make it stand out.  Draw on factual reports and scientific information but reword and personalise: tell your own story. It should be original – your own work and not sent to multiple newspapers.  
  • It needs to be short – no longer than 250 words.
  • It can’t be rude or libellous!  Try to keep your tone upbeat.
  • It needs to be easy for the editor.  Just copy your text into an email to the editor.  And think about a good heading for them too.
  • Make sure you include your full contact details, including home address and phone number. Although this rarely happen, they may contact you to confirm who you are.
  • Avoid jargon and technical language – if you are discussing scientific issues, put it in a way that others can understand easily.

One technique is to use a praise sandwich.

  1. Praise. Thank or acknowledge the journalist for raising a topic or a good point they made.
  2. Ham. State what you want to contribute to the argument, or what the problem is with their argument / the situation more broadly.
  3. Cheese. Recommend a possible or known solution – remember CCLA is about solutions not problems. For example, it is great if you can bring the benefits of a carbon price into the discussion in a positive way, rather than being negative about the repeal of the Gillard carbon price.

For more detail on how to write a successful letter to the editor: Tips on Writing to the Editor

 

You can download a PDF version of this FACT SHEET here.