A GROUP of young Christians are planning a 750-mile pilgrimage to press world leaders for action on climate change and its effects on the poorest countries.
The “Rise to the Moment” relay organised by the Young Christians Climate Network will link the G7 meeting in Cornwall this month with the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November. Over 84 days, it will follow a route from Truro Cathedral, via Bristol, Reading, and London, Birmingham, Manchester, York, Newcastle, and Edinburgh, to Clydeside. The network is inviting people of all ages and faiths to walk a section of their choosing.
En route, the walkers will carry a two-metre-long boat symbolising their campaign message “We are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat”, which refers to the way in which the most vulnerable people and places are the worst affected by climate change. The boat’s sails are made from material from countries threatened by inundation as sea levels rise.
“The G7 and COP26 are an opportunity for world leaders to make decisions on finance which would enable everyone to be able to navigate the consequences of climate change,” the relay’s co-leader, Rachel Mander, said.
“The boat is a particularly pertinent symbol, because about ten per cent of the world’s population, or 770 million people, today live on land less than five metres above the high-tide line. All of the worst effects of the climate crisis are preventable by decisive action from the global community; it’s what makes our inaction so awful.” The boat’s hull is made from a coffin, to make it easier to carry.
Ms Mander is walking between Sheffield and Manchester in early September. She describes it as “an act of faith, hope, and love.” She continued: “I’m hoping that the combined efforts of churches as part of the relay will pressure the UK Government, in its role as host of the COP26 international climate negotiations in November, to ensure that no country gets pushed into debt because of climate change.”
The journey has been divided into ten “regions” between large cities, each subdivided into a day’s walk of about ten miles. Other parts of Britain are also being asked to set up their own “tributaries” leading across their region to a city on the main relay. In Wales, campaigners will follow a 125-mile route, departing from St Thomas’s, Swansea, on 3 July, and arriving in Bristol on 12 July.
Young Christians Climate NetworkA plan of the route
Among them will be the Bishop of St Davids, Dr Joanna Penberthy, the Church in Wales’s lead bishop for the environment. “We face a climate emergency which affects every one of us,” she said. “I applaud the young Christians who have planned this relay to raise awareness of the issues at stake and campaign for climate justice, and I look forward to joining them, and supporters of all ages, along the route. Each step along the way is a call for climate justice. Let’s make our voices heard.”
Molly Clark, another YCCN member who is co-ordinating volunteers for the Salisbury to Sheffield section of the Relay, said on Thursday: “We all need to raise as much awareness about climate justice as possible in the run-up to COP26: we need our Government to know that we’re demanding action. As a wealthy nation, and as a nation that has historically done a huge amount to cause the climate crisis and perpetuate exploitation, the UK has a responsibility to up its game on climate finance.
“Many nations around the world, particularly in the Global South, are not only suffering the devastating effects of a crisis they did little to cause, but are also in many cases going into debt as a result. As a citizen of the UK and as a Christian, I want to be part of a movement that’s calling for change. I hope that our Relay will send a clear message to churches and to the Government.”
For more information visit www.yccn.uk