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From ballot to impact: Why your vote matters in the UK General Election

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By Michelle Arellano-Meza

· 3 min read

The World Energy Council’s Issues Monitor 2024 report highlights that upcoming elections in several countries could significantly influence national and international policies on energy, trade, protectionism, and climate change, as well as shift alliances and priorities.

In this context, the upcoming UK general election is a crucial opportunity for citizens to shape the direction of the country's policies, particularly regarding just transitions and socio-economic issues. Just transitions beyond net-zero are complex, and must consider the socio-economic impacts on  vulnerable and marginalised communities. 

The cost of living crisis has left people struggling to cover their basic living expenses, having to choose between heating their homes and buying food. The Office for National Statistics reports a bleak picture from this past winter:

“A high proportion of adults who reported difficulties with their ability to keep warm in their home also experienced difficulties with paying their energy bills (76%), affording food (14%) or affording housing payments (59%).”

Moreover, the dawning reality of the climate crisis brings more widespread extreme weather events: record temperatures and heatwaves during summer, as well as flooding and storms hitting the UK on a more regular basis. All of which strain public expenditure and cause personal damages.

Given these challenges, the general election becomes a historic opportunity to accelerate and scale up just transitions in the UK. It can significantly impact the pace of the energy transition defining domestic policies and investment priorities with substantial implications for the future

The power of voting

I truly believe that one vote can make a difference and that voting can drive change in favour of nature and a healthier future. The recent referendum in Ecuador illustrates this: nearly 60% of Ecuadoreans voted to halt all drilling operations in the Yasuní National Park. This historic voting sets the stage for post-oil transition and sustainable development and marks a significant turning point in environmental conservation, indigenous self-determination, and the global fight against climate change. The decision of leaving oil indefinitely underground shows how voters can effect change, at the national level, away from political or corporate interest.

What can we do?

It is easy to feel anxious about these complex issues, but there are actions we can take. I am not here to tell people how to vote, but I will encourage everybody to find out more about what is being proposed. I would like people to explore parties manifestos, listen to debates, and have conversations with friends and family. Ultimately, I would like voters to make informed decisions

For those interested in the proposals from the parties in terms of energy transition and climate change, Friends of the Earth created a very useful tool that scores the parties’ green policies

Finally, some key dates in the UK General Election 2024 to consider: the deadline to register to vote is the 18th of June by midnight, and the deadline for new postal vote applicants or amending existing absent voting arrangements is the 19th of June. Then go to the polling stations on the 4th of July.

Voting can be a powerful tool, it is not just casting a ballot. But voting is just the beginning of active citizenship, we must continue working within our local communities and hold our leaders accountable.

illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

Michelle Arellano is an international affairs professional, with over 15 years of experience in the field. Her expertise lies in energy sustainability and climate change, bringing a multidisciplinary perspective that includes socio-economic insights to an often technocratic sector. She is currently leading the Future Energy Leaders programme at the World Energy Council, where she promotes clean and just energy transitions for a healthier, more inclusive future for all.

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