Rachel Mander, one of the relay walkers, explains the background to the initiative, the group’s aims and how they are getting on a couple of weeks into their journey…
Just after the G7 in Cornwall, we set out to walk all the way to another set of talks – the international climate negotiations, COP26, being held in Glasgow in November. We’re walking as an act of faith, hope and love. We have lots of days which we still don’t have any offers of accommodation for, and where the route isn’t finalised.
Already though, we have seen provision. A beautiful send-out service from Truro Cathedral, offers to meet a mayor, accommodation with views of a sunset over the harbour, rope swings over rivers, and a WhatsApp group with people praying for the journey.
We’re walking because at the moment, many countries are being pushed further into debt because of the impacts of climate change. The existing international commitments to provide financial support to the countries most vulnerable to climate change, are being broken by our own government.
We want to pressure the UK government to prepare for COP26. As a global financial player, we should be reversing the recent cuts to aid, delivering on existing climate finance, and ensuring that no country gets pushed into debt because of climate change (the technical part of the UN negotiations for this is ensuring provision for a loss and damage financial mechanism).
A boat is accompanying us on our journey, with sails made from material from around the world. It’s part of our acknowledgement that “We are in the same storm, but not the same boat” – just like we have seen with the covid-19 pandemic. As young Christians organising this Relay, we know that the story of our adult lives will be witnessing the effects of climate change, which will hit our neighbours around the world first and foremost.
Many churches around the world have been calling for climate action for decades. A 2004 World Council of Churches statement calls “on our sisters and brothers in Christ throughout the world to act in solidarity with us to reduce the causes of human-induced climate change… and to pay for the costs of adaptation to anticipated the impacts”. I personally was just 7 years old when this call was issued. In faith, we ask churches in the UK to respond by joining us in this Relay to COP26.
We have over 100 days of walking ahead of us, and events in 10 major cities across the UK. We would love you to join us: walk with us, host us in church halls, hold Climate Sunday services as we pass through, campaign with us to ask the UK government to act to ensure no country gets pushed into debt because of climate change.
Join us as we, “Rise to the Moment”.
Sign up on Young Christian Climate Network website, and join one of their introductory calls:
Sign up to Slack for the YCCN Climate Relay – this is the easiest way to get in contact with other people in your route section.
This piece first appeared in the Methodist Blog. Photo credits to the Methodist Blog.
Read our introduction to the YCCN Relay