In May 2023 we have an opportunity to ensure councils across England, no matter their political party, take climate breakdown seriously and commit to making our towns and cities greener and fairer for everyone.

24 Feb 2023

If we’re going to create the global change we need, the best thing we can do is start by transforming where we live.

Press play and find out why local government matters and how councils can help stop climate breakdown.

May 2023 council elections

On 4 May 2023, elections will be held in over 200 councils across England. Election candidates will be looking to gain public support and ultimately win votes.

Council elections are a prime opportunity to get real and ambitious climate commitments from your current and future local councillors. In 2022, Barnet Friends of the Earth’s excellent local elections campaign helped contribute to their council declaring a climate emergency. While Manchester Friends of the Earth secured a commitment from 216 of their council candidates to divest council pension funds from fossil fuel investments.

If you'd like to find out about elections and electoral candidates in your area, visit  Please note that in some areas candidates might not officially declare their candidacy until 5 April 2023.

There'll also be local elections for all councils in Northern Ireland on 18 May 2023. However, we won’t be campaigning on them as we’ll be focusing our energy on the Northern Ireland Assembly elections. If you'd like to get involved with the Northern Ireland Assembly campaign, get in touch with the team at

Secure bold climate commitments from candidates

What you ask candidates to commit to will depend on your local context. Perhaps you want your council to:

If you’re not sure what to focus your campaign on, take a look at what other councils around the country are doing to tackle the climate crisis. Or check out our handy localised tool to discover key climate stats about your area – it can help you figure out what should be a priority for your local area.

Whatever your local ask is, securing commitments from your candidates is an important way to make sure the climate emergency is on their agenda if they’re elected. To do this, we recommend either meeting with your candidates or organising a hustings and/or setting up a petition or open letter to candidates to support your campaign.

Meet your candidates

Meeting with candidates is a good way of understanding their priorities and a chance to identify how committed they are to acting on climate and ecological emergencies. Arranging for your group and other local allies to meet with candidates is also a good way to show your collective power.

There may be lots of candidates in your local area so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to meet with all of them. We recommend that you prioritise meetings with the leaders of your local political parties or all the candidates standing for election in your ward.

Ask candidates if they’ll commit to your local campaign ask.

If you have the candidates support, make sure you share their commitment via social media. Read our guide to meeting with your election candidates for more information.

Organise a hustings

A hustings is a panel discussion in the run-up to an election, where candidates debate policies and answer questions from the audience.

They're a great way to publicly push candidates to make commitments on taking climate action.

Read our guide on how to organise and host a hustings.

It’s a great idea to work with other local allies and campaign groups when you’re lobbying candidates or holding hustings. Your campaign will be stronger and more impactful when you collaborate and build alliances across your community. Find out how to build alliances.

Create a petition or open letter

To make your campaign even stronger, we suggest setting up a petition or an open letter about a climate- or nature-related cause that matters to your area. It's a great way to recruit people to your mailing list, and it shows candidates that you have public support and that you’re not acting alone, meaning they'll be more likely to listen.

The easiest way to set up a petition or open letter is by using Action Network. If you’re unsure what to base your petition on, use and adapt our template “climate pledge”, aimed at getting electoral candidates to take measures to address the climate emergency.

If you’re not on Action Network yet, get in touch with us at and we can get you set up.

Get the word out

The more people that hear about your campaign the better. Spreading the word about your campaign can help recruit new people to your group and show election candidates how much support there is for climate action in your area.

Find out more about how you can use social media, download election-specific social media templates and get media coverage to spread the word:

Need a helping hand to get your elections campaign started? Take a look at our training video on how to get climate action on the agenda this election.