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Democracy in a changing climate

May 2022

A sunset over the roofs of Sheffield

A local problem... everywhere

A year after we set it up, Louise reflects on how the work we've done through our Climate programme intersects with mySociety's mission as an organisation.

Discover how climate touches on community, transparency and democracy, and where we're going with all this. After all, in the words of Paddy Loughman, "Climate is no longer the story, but the setting in which all stories take place."

Help us understand what's needed for nature

We're building quick mock-ups of potential digital tools for climate, during intensive weeks where we invite others to join us as we discuss, brainstorm and design.

For our next prototyping week, we're hoping to talk to those working around access to nature: whether that's flora and fauna, wide open spaces or urban greenery. Sound like something you'd like to have a say on? Find more details in this post.

Climate, local councils and the public

How well does the general public understand the role that local government will play in the UK's efforts to cut carbon emissions?

We commissioned research to find out just that, which revealed seven key points. Among them, perhaps unsurprisingly, there's a rather low level of knowledge around the different types of government and what each of them is responsible for. See the other findings here.

A picture of a boat, covered in Post-It notes. This was the result of a brainstorming session on 'what fills our sails/what drags us down?'

This month in Climate

We're still keeping monthly records of everything the Climate team does. Read more about our prototyping, and everything else we've been working away at, in this month's installment.

A very busy shopping street in Glasgow

Business Improvement Districts on WhatDoTheyKnow

Business Improvement Districts — where businesses pay an extra levy to enhance the local area — are generally not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. But there's a good case for saying they ought to be open to scrutiny, as we explore in this post.

PACAC and the Clearing House report

The Cabinet Office Freedom of Information Clearing House was the subject of concern when it was revealed they were identifying 'sensitive' requests such as those from journalists, in defiance of the Act's 'applicant blind' principle.

The House of Commons’ Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has now released its report, to which we submitted evidence back in October. No time to read the whole report? Find our handy summary and some thoughts on its significance here.


How do we tell our stories?

The TICTeC logoCivic tech is a tight-knit community, which is lovely in some ways, but can get in the way of getting more mainstream take-up. In the next TICTeC Civic Tech Surgery (May 12), a panel will be discussing this issue and everyone's invited to add their ideas as well. If that sounds interesting, do sign up via Eventbrite.

What we're reading (and watching)

Did you know that you can subscribe to our special interest newsletters too? Get an extra monthly bulletin on Democracy & Campaigning, Freedom of Information, Better Cities & Councils, or Research. Pick and choose your mySociety newsletters here.

And finally...

Thanks to our 'contact your representatives' service WriteToThem, we're very well placed to notice when there is a surge of people doing just that.

It seems that the news around fines being sent to Downing Street was the cue needed for thousands of people to dash off an email to their MPs last month. April 13 was the peak, when we saw about four times as many users as normal.

Of course, only a proportion of emails to MPs are sent through WriteToThem, but it is a good bellwether, for sure.

A graph showing a massive couple of bars representing the last two days

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mySociety is a registered charity in England and Wales (1076346) and a limited company (03277032).
Through our trading subsidiary SocietyWorks (05798215) we also provide commercial services.
Image credits: Sheffield rooftops: Benjamin Elliot; Busy shopping street Artur Kraft
Copyright © 2022 mySociety, All rights reserved.

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