On 5 September 2021, 40 walkers from across the country will set off from London, and from Bristol a few days later, on a 500 mile journey to the United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. The walk has been called “Camino to COP” in reference to pilgrimages made since medieval times. It is inspired by the faith tradition of pilgrimage and great justice marches of the past – such as the Jarrow March in the UK, the Salt March in India and the March on Washington in the US.
The aim is to share personal, human stories, to talk about climate justice and inspire others to add their voices to the growing global chorus demanding that governments treat the climate crisis as the emergency that it is. The pilgrimage is also fundraising to empower activist groups in areas most impacted by climate change to join the conversation themselves.
CCA’s Sandie Stratford says “Our carbon emissions are harming people who least deserve it. Since 2008 I have voted, lobbied, nagged, marched and cried. To no avail: emissions have increased. During lockdown, I joined an online praying community. Sitting in grief with others somehow helped me to kindle hope that things could be different. So I am going to embark on this journey to COP26 in Glasgow, sharing stories as we go with communities which will offer us floor space.” Melanie Nazareth, Strategic and Spiritual Lead for the Camino To COP, adds: “The people most affected by ecological and climate breakdown are not being heard. I hope that we can amplify their voices as we walk the Camino.”
Led by the Extinction Rebellion interfaith alliance, known as the XR Faith Bridge, people from a variety of backgrounds, of different faiths and none, including a number from CCA, have felt drawn to participate. People will come and go, and local walkers will join for a day or more. Approximately 15 people are expected to walk the entire route (which is about the length of 6,769 football pitches!) over the course of eight weeks, arriving in Glasgow on the eve of COP, 30th October 2021.
The pilgrimage welcomes day walkers or walkers with their own accommodation to join them for as short or as long a distance as they wish. Many stages are accessible by public transport. Traditionally pilgrims rely on the hospitality of local communities and the Camino to COP is no different. Accommodation has been generously offered on church and hall floors, but the group is grateful for offers of meals or snacks and packed lunches along the walking route as well facilities to shower and for laundry.
More information on the route can be found on the Camino to COP website. You can also donate online to support the walk. The Camino to COP is also inviting you to follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@caminotocop) and Instagram (@caminotocop).
The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) is being hosted by the UK in Glasgow between 31st October and 12th November 2021. COP is a decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). At the summit, delegates including heads of state, climate experts and negotiators will come together to agree coordinated action to tackle climate change. It’s an important time both to hold world leaders and other delegates in prayer and also to challenge them to commit to meaningful action. It’s high profile is also a chance to engage a wider community of people in pushing for such action.