I am a member of the newly formed ‘Young Christian Climate Network’, which since January has been planning a 1,200 mile ‘relay’ pilgrimage-protest-walk from the G7 leaders’ summit held in Cornwall in June to Glasgow in time for the start of COP26. We want to raise awareness of climate change and the COP process among the people we meet, while holding world governments to account – visually showing how many people care about this issue.


Walkers in Cornwall with flag

As the new IPCC report released earlier this week shows, the effects of climate change are already being felt around the world, and a certain amount of future warming is expected even under the lowest emission scenarios. However, decisions we make today – including those at COP26 – will still affect how much warming occurs in the future, directly impacting the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people. The devastating floods, storms and fires recently seen in the news can only be expected to become more frequent as warming continues, so it is vital we reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero as rapidly as possible to minimise these effects and protect the world’s most vulnerable communities.


As essential as it is to reduce emissions, the focus of our relay is on climate finance. Since the industrial revolution, countries in the ‘Global North’ – like the UK – have done the most to cause the warming we are experiencing, but on the whole will be affected the least. It is poorer, often low-lying nations such as Bangladesh and the Maldives that have done little to cause climate change which will see large areas of land lost, people made homeless, and refugees created – even with stringent emissions’ reductions. In 2009, world governments pledged that $100 bn/y climate finance would be provided to developing countries by the year 2020. This is yet to be fully realised, and much of present finance is in the form of loans, pushing third world countries further into debt.
In youthful ambition, we’ve tried to include as many large towns and cities along the route as possible, including Bristol, London, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh, making our whole meandering route over 1,200 miles long! Sadly, Norwich missed the cut, although a local group has been organising a ‘tributary’ walk from Great Yarmouth to Kings Lynn from 21st – 29th August.

'The Pilgrim' pictured in Bristol

Stopping off in some of the main towns we pass through is our 2 metre long boat, ‘the Pilgrim’ (pictured) symbolising that ‘we’re all in the same storm, but not in the same boat’. Being made from a coffin, it reminds us of the real death and destruction caused by our actions, but also reminds us that God can bring life out of death and rescue even the most dire situation.

 

We are so grateful to the ever-growing team of volunteers who have walked with, accommodated, fed, prayed for, and otherwise supported us so far. The main route left London on Monday on its way to Oxford, Birmingham, Nottingham, and further north. We would love for you to join us! For more information on where we’re walking, why we’re walking and to follow our progress, visit our website yccn.uk. You’re also most welcome to email me directly on williamvisick@btinternet.com if you’d like more information, or to be added to our email list with updates as we approach Glasgow. For information on the Yarmouth-Lynn tributary, see multifaithpilgrimage.org

 

P.S. Although the walk is being organised by the ‘Young Christian Climate Network’, it is fully open to people of all ages. Our oldest walker so far was 86!