The WI has a proud history of taking action to protect the environment. As a founding member of The Climate Coalition, the WI movement works to urge policymakers to take decisive action to tackle climate change, and to encourage community networks to come together on climate action projects in their local area.
For nearly 100 years, WI members have led campaigns to conserve the natural world from environmental degradation and climate change. Generations of WI members have used their campaigning might to call for action on issues as diverse as water pollution (1936), acid rain (1985), the ozone layer and CFCs (1988), deforestation (1989), renewable energy (1977 and 2006), litter - a campaign which founded one of Britain’s leading environmental organisations Keep Britain Tidy in 1954 – recycling and conservation of resources (2005), and the protection of birds (1933), honeybees (2009) and animal welfare.
Be it making simple swaps in their own lives, or lobbying policymakers as part of the WI’s Climate Ambassador scheme, more and more WI members are taking action to protect our world for generations to come.
Our recent climate change campaign achievements
WI members took part in February’s ‘Show the Love’ campaign, and September’s ‘Great Big Green Week’ mobilisation- the biggest green week the UK has ever seen.
The WI also became a member of the Warm this Winter coalition, a campaign coalition of over 40 of the UK’s leading charities, to demand the government acts now to help people struggling with the rising cost of energy bills. WI members were part of the 400,000 signatories to the Warm this Winter petition, and joined in with campaign events to call on the government to ramp up renewable energy schemes, provide emergency financial support to the most vulnerable, and to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
The WI also partnered with Unchecked UK- a diverse coalition of organisations that campaign for strong social, employment and environmental protections- to oppose the scrapping of thousands of rights and protections by the government’s planned Retained EU Law Bill. If passed, the Retained EU Law Bill threatens over 1,700 environmental protections, some for which WI members have actively campaigned. This includes the Clean Water Directive, widely seen as having driven vast improvements in water quality around UK shores, and protections for wildlife enshrined in the Habitats Directive.
In November 2021, the UK Government hosted the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
In an incredibly busy year for UK climate action, WI members called on the UK Government to deliver strong and ambitious climate agreements at COP26 without any loopholes to keep the world to 1.5C of temperature rises by 2100.
WI members hand-made ‘No More Loophole’ bracelets and used these to lobby their policymakers for urgent climate action, and used the WI’s ‘The Whole Story’ action pack to raise awareness of the relationship between gender inequalities and climate change. WI members also contributed to the WI’s Climate Scrapbook, with their views on why urgent climate action was needed at COP26, and marched for climate action across England, Wales and the Islands during the Global Day of Action protests.
The NFWI Public Affairs team took the voices of WI members to the COP26 conference itself and organised a public stand in the UK Government’s ‘Green Zone.’ Ahead of COP26, we joined with Care International and organised an MP drop-in event in Parliament Square to draw attention to the disproportionate impacts of climate change on women and girls.
WI members joined with members of The Climate Coalition and organised community events to support the annual Show the Love campaign in February 2021, and then again for the first ever Great Big Green Week in September 2021.
Virtual mass lobby
On the 30th June 2020, the WI joined with organisations across The Climate Coalition and beyond to organise the first virtual lobby for climate, nature and green policies. Over 100 WI members joined the 13,000+ people who took part in the virtual lobby from the comfort of their own homes and asked over 280 MPs to put in place policies that will guarantee a green economic recovery.
In addition to taking part in The Climate Coalition’s ‘Show the Love’ campaign in February, over 200 WI members joined the "Time is Now" lobby in Westminster to speak to their MPs about protecting the environment from climate change on 26th June 2019.
On that day, WI members were part of the largest environment lobby in history, with 12,000 people attending and over 350 MPs lobbied.
You can watch our highlights video from the day.
Following on from the WI’s earlier campaign on women and climate change (2009), the Climate Ambassador scheme was launched. As Climate Ambassadors, WI members are working in communities across England, Wales and the Islands and organising community events, panels and talks, lobbying policymakers and working with like-minded community groups and businesses to build public consensus for the need for more urgent action on climate change.
You can find out more about the scheme here.
What climate campaigns will the WI be focusing on in 2023?
As the largest women’s voluntary organisation in the UK, the WI will be using our campaigning might to call for ambitious domestic policies that get the UK on track for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. We will be working alongside partners in The Climate Coalition, Warm this Winter and Unchecked UK to campaign for green, clean solutions to rising energy bills, and to retain hard-won environmental policies and protections.
The WI will also be continuing to boost our WI Climate Ambassador scheme with new resources, training, and expert panel events. If you are a WI member, you can find out more about the WI Climate Ambassador scheme here.
If you are not already a WI member, the members decide the WI campaigns through a democratic vote. We would love to welcome a new WI member, please click here for further details.
How to get involved
- Make and send your MP your own ‘Patchwork Green Heart’ to let them know you are counting on them to take decisive action on climate change
- Visit The Climate Coalition’s website to find out more about Show the Love and the Great Big Green Week, access campaign resources, and how you can take part
- Visit the Warm this Winter website to find out more about the Warm this Winter campaign, access campaign resources and get involved in campaign actions
If you are a WI Member or Supporter Plus, we have more ways to get involved on My WI. Find out more here.