Letter

Background:

Climate change is an important issue facing society today. It may seem less important right now, as we are dealing with the more imminent concern of COVID19, but it is still a challenge that we are facing. One thing I have become aware of over the last couple of months is how fast society can respond locally, provincially, nationally and globally, when we choose to. This gives me hope for the future. An important part of this course is learning about climate change, but another goal is learning how to make your voice heard and take a stand on issues that matter to you. The purpose of the climate change challenge was to take action to reduce our carbon footprints. Making changes to our own lifestyles is important, but it won’t be enough, we will also need government and businesses to step up and take action. Today, more than ever, we all have a responsibility to be engaged and communicate to institutions that need to change. Objective: The objective of this assignment is to learn how to write an effective letter to a provincial government official requesting a change in policy regarding global climate warming and its effects. What you will do:

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1. Watch the Ted Talk by Luisa Neubauer to understand the need for becoming politically active. https://www.ted.com/talks/luisa_neubauer_why_you_should_be_a_climate_activist#t-2769

2. Do some research on your provincial member of parliament. What have they done to help protect the planet from climate change? What is their position on climate change? Or if you prefer, write a letter to the Ontario premier, Doug Ford. Whoever you choose to write to you need to know something about them. What is their background? What is their position on climate change? You need to know who you are writing to in order to compose an effective letter.

3. Do some research on the present Ontario government’s policy on climate change. https://www.ontario.ca/page/made-in-ontario-environment-plan. Read the plan carefully and be critical considering what you have learned in this class. There are problems with the plan – see if you see some of them. You may also want to do some investigation yourself – check out this for example: https://www.auditor.on.ca/en/content/news/19_newsreleases/2019news_v2_3.00.pdf or or https://environmentaldefence.ca/2020/04/21/ontarios-greenhouse-gas-emissions-goinginstead/ or the federal government’s site that explains how federal policies will apply in Ontario. https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/climate-change/pricingpollution-how-it-will-work/ontario.html. You may also find this information on carbon taxes and cap and trade, two policies that are used to cut emissions, useful. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-canadas-carbon-tax-a-guide/

4. After you have done some reading and research, decide on a position you want to take on an issue relating to climate change. Consider different points that support your position and then select the three best ones.

5. Read the hand out on effective letter writing and compose your letter. It has important information in it (such as word count).

Evaluation: 10 marks: a) 3 marks for style: grammar, spelling, paragraphs, punctuation, clarity, proper use of references in text and in bibliography; b) 5 marks for substance: For writing a thoughtful and creative letter that provides 3 points for your position and substantiates these points with at least 3 other sources, and c) 2 marks for following the directions on how to write an effective letter.

HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE LETTER REQUESTING CHANGE

Purpose: Last year in Climate Change, guest speakers who visited in the last few classes commented on the effectiveness of writing letters to government officials to instigate change. Writing informed and personal letters to local, provincial or federal politicians can have a significant impact on government policy.

Here are tips on how to write an effective letter: A Structured Letter: A structured letter has an opening paragraph that:
1) Provides an introduction of yourself and why you are qualified to speak on this issue.
2) Includes the topic of your letter. For example, “I am writing to express my concern (provide details)…”
3) Describes what you want.
4) Provides a “pitch” that lets the reader know why you want what you are asking for in your first paragraph, if not your opening sentence.
5) Remember when you are writing to a government official they may not read your whole letter, so it is important to have a strong introduction.

Use three points that best support your position. Structure your letter so that you:
1) Address a new point in each paragraph.
2) Ensure your facts are accurate and credible.
3) Acknowledge opposing arguments and evidence.

Personalize the issue:
1) Explain how the issue affects you, your family or your community.
2) A letter with personal details may be more persuasive and have more impact.
3) Try to make it relevant to the person you are writing to (that’s why you should research the person).

Be aware of their views:
1) If unsure of the views of the politician or political party on the issue, research it. Then explain why they should support your position or, if their actions align with your position, be supportive of them.
2) Always be courteous and respectful.

The Last Word:
1) Restate your “pitch” and thank your politician for taking the time to read your letter.
2) Say that you hope someone will respond to your query when possible.
3) Acknowledge any positive steps the person you are writing to has already taken.
4) Leave contact information (email address, school name, etc.) (NOT necessary for this assignment)
5) Sign your letter (You don’t have to include your signature, just your name)

Critical tips:
1) Be short and succinct. No more than 400 words. Never use anything smaller than 12 point font and double space to make reading easier.
2) Use accurate facts, quotes from community members, and statistics – but don’t overuse them. Provide sources.

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