Elections 2023

Get your local election candidates to support the call to divest

This May, local council elections will be taking place in England and Northern Ireland.

Despite more than three-quarters declaring a climate emergency, our local authorities continue to invest around £10bn in the very companies fuelling and profiting from the climate crisis. The upcoming elections offer an unmissable opportunity to get local politicians to publicly declare their support for fossil fuel divestment.

Investing local pensions in fossil fuels is fuelling climate change and air pollution, contradicting local, national, and international commitments to tackle climate change. It is also putting members’ pensions in jeopardy as fossil fuel investments now pose a dangerous long-term financial risk to investors.

Will you help us get candidates to sign the UK Divest pledge?

“If elected, I will do all I can to ensure the council pension fund ends investment in fossil fuels within the next five years and invests in a just transition to a zero carbon economy.”

Step 1

Find out who your local candidates are

Enter your postcode into the Who Can I Vote For? website to see if there are elections taking place near you and get the contact details of any candidates running in your area.

Click here to see the full list of elections taking place

Step 2

Email your candidates

Use our template email to contact your candidates, making sure to attach the candidate briefing and link to the form they can use to register their pledge.

Step 3

Ask your friends to do the same

Use the share links below to ask your friends and family to contact their candidates too.

Frequently asked questions

England

Elections in England will take place on Thursday 4 May. This includes more than 200 district councils and unitary authorities, as well as four directly-elected mayors.

Northern Ireland

Elections in Northern Ireland will take place on Thursday 18 May. Voters will be electing councillors in all 11 local authorities in Northern Ireland, amounting to a total of 462 seats.

Candidate information will not be officially declared until 5 April in England and 25 April in Northern Ireland. However, even after this date, candidate data for local council elections may be difficult to get hold of or incomplete.

Here are some tips for if you’re struggling to find the information needed to get in touch with candidates:

  • Search for candidate listings published on your local council’s website.
  • If you have the name of a candidate but not their email address, do some online searching to find another way of getting in touch with them. For example, by searching something like "John Smith Leicester Westcotes 2023 council election" you may come across the candidate's Facebook or Twitter account, or a website for their campaign which should allow you to reach out another way (i.e. through a direct message).
  • A last-ditch attempt might be to get in contact with the officer responsible for elections at your council and see if they are able to share contact details they might have or pass on a message for you.
  • Ultimately, for some candidates it may be impossible to find any way of contacting them, particularly if they have no personal online or social media presence and they aren't actively campaigning.

Click here for a 4-minute demo video that runs through how to use the website and offers suggestions for searching for candidate contact details.

Whether you're a member of a local climate group or not, there are lots of ways you can help to boost pledge signatories in your area:

  • Host a pledge drive or online organising call — This could be any activity aimed at getting more people in the local area to contact their candidates and as a result drive up the number of pledges. You could do this online by publicising a time for people to all call, email or Tweet/Facebook message their candidates asking them to sign the pledge. Or, another option might be to set up stall in a busy part of town and speak to people about how they can ask their candidates to sign the pledge.
  • Get in touch with constituency parties or local branches — An easy way to get lots of signatories to the pledge at once is to contact party branches in your area and ask them to disseminate the pledge to all their candidates standing for election. You can adapt the candidate template email. To find your local party branches, Google the name of where you live followed by the name of the party or parties you'd like to find - for example, "Glasgow SNP", "Glasgow Conservative Party", or "Glasgow Green Party".
  • Run a local "hustings" — One of the ways you can push electoral candidates on their position on the climate crisis is to hold a hustings event. A hustings is a panel discussion in the run-up to an election where candidates debate policies and answer questions from the audience. It's also a great way to secure commitments from candidates, while building relationships with your potential elected representatives. You can hold a hustings that specifically relates to divestment, or to discuss how candidates will address the climate crisis more broadly.
  • Create an eye-catching placard — If your group is feeling creative, making a placard can be a great group activity. You can then invite pledged candidates to take a photo with your banner and use this to promote the campaign to other candidates and to encourage your supporters to take action.

If there are no elections taking place near you, we'd still really appreciate your support!

There are lots of ways you can get involved:

  • Contact your local councillors and ask them to sign the UK Divest councillor pledge.
  • Please share this webpage with friends, family, and colleagues who live in different parts of the UK and ask them to take part.
  • Find out if there's a local divestment group near you and see what else is going on in your area.
  • See the final FAQ in this section for details on how to help Democracy Club with collecting candidate contact information in the lead-up to the elections.

Mayors are being elected in four English local authorities (Bedford, Leicester, Mansfield, and Middlesbrough) on 4 May.

You can invite candidates for these roles to sign the standard councillor pledge, however, you may want to amend the template email slightly to acknowledge their role.

Democracy Club (the people behind the WhoCanIVoteFor.co.uk website) rely on the support of people like you to ensure voters have everything they need to make their decision on polling day.

Whether you've already mapped out your local candidates or have some time to do some research in the coming days or weeks, your contribution will ensure other people in your area can contact election candidates about the UK Divest pledge or other important issues in advance of the election.

How to contribute

Information about candidates, including contact details, can be added by creating an account at Democracy Club's crowdsourcing site. If you’re looking to add information on a specific area or ward, you can find a list of all elections on the elections tab. If you have a large amount of information (e.g. a list of candidate email addresses), you can also email them directly to the team: hello@democracyclub.org.uk.

The best time to jump in will be after nominations close (5 April for Englanfd and 25 April for Northern Ireland). Head to the crowdsourcing site at or after 4pm on 6 April to see what tasks need doing.

Hustings

WhoCanIVoteFor.co.uk also displays information about public hustings voters can attend. Hustings can be submitted using this form.

Any questions? Drop the team a line at hello@democracyclub.org.uk.

If you’re standing as a candidate, simply fill in this short form to register your pledge and then use our candidate resources to promote your pledge.

Divestment is a cross-party issue that is popular with the public, morally right, and financially sound.

If there are a number of candidates running for election from your party, please encourage as many as possible to join you in pledging to support fossil fuel divestment.

Regardless of what committees you sit on or which party you are a member of, every councillor has the power to raise the profile of divestment — from putting forward motions, to simply speaking to other councillors about the issue. Click here to read some examples of ways you can take action once elected.

If you're looking for even more opportunities to take climate action, watch Friends of the Earth's webinar on how local councillors can help to meet UK climate targets.

If you're looking to learn more about the detail of divesting, including the moral, ethical and financial arguments, and want to find out how a local authority pension fund goes about divesting, we recommend you watch this webinar from the 2022 local elections. The event featured presentations from financial expert Mark Campanale (Carbon Tracker) and a councillor representing a fund leading the way on fossil fuel divestment.

You can also find out more in our slightly longer councillor briefing.

Five local authority pension funds have committed to fully divest from fossil fuels:

South Yorkshire and Haringey have committed to divesting from coal.

Click here to see other commitments from other UK institutions, read case studies of the Waltham Forest and Islington Pension Funds, and for a list of non-binding council motions.

Events for candidates

Securing climate-friendly investments for local government pensions

Watch back our latest webinar where we were joined by green finance expert Mark Campanale to find out how councillors can secure climate-friendly, fossil free pensions.

Pledged candidates

Disclaimer: we do our best to verify the information provided to us, however, sometimes errors may slip through. If your name is listed in the above list but you have not signed the pledge, please get in touch with us at ukdivest@gmail.com.

Voting in the upcoming elections

The Government has introduced mandatory photo ID for voters. Make sure to have a valid form of photo ID with you when you go to your polling station.