Stepping Forward for the Climate

by Gerry Lynch last modified 17 Nov, 2015 09:55 AM

Wiltshire churchgoer walks from the London to Paris to support carbon deal at global summit

On Friday 13 November, Elizabeth Perry from Middle Woodford set off from London on foot on a 200-mile pilgrimage to Paris to urge world leaders to take action on climate change. At least 30 pilgrims set off from St Martin in the Fields on Friday after a service led by Bishop Nicholas as the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment.

The Pilgrimage2Paris has been jointly organized by the Church of England, Christian Aid, Tearfund and the Roman Catholic development agency CAFOD. The pilgrims planned to arrive in Paris two weeks later just as world leaders gather for a UN climate summit aimed at hammering out a global climate change agreement. They planned to join pilgrims from around the world as well as Parisians on a major march to lobby for change.

Elizabeth said, “I’m doing this because I want to ‘pray with my feet’, and be a part of the wider movement of pilgrimages that has been happening this year – people walking together for the love of our common home and to show political leaders it is time for action. I want to help carry the hopes and voices of people at the sharp end of climate change to Paris – people I know in Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, the Caribbean and Zambia, for whom climate change is a real and present threat, exacerbating the challenges they already face.

“I want the leaders of the nations gathering in Paris to know that ordinary people around the world are deeply concerned about climate change and care about what is happening to our world and to our global neighbours”, Elizabeth said. “The science is clear, the need is urgent: we have to take bold and decisive action to combat climate change. With every step I take I will be praying that the leaders of the nations gathering in Paris will commit to that action”.

Elizabeth works for the Anglican Alliance, the Anglican Communion development agency, and was working in the Solomon Islands earlier this year when it was hit by Cyclone Pam. “I got caught up in it a bit”, she said, “but it was just extremely wet and windy where I was, not like when it hit Vanuatu a few days later. The whole South Pacific region is feeling the impacts of climate change - changing rainfall patterns, rising sea levels and the salination of soil. It has a huge effect on people’s lives. The Anglican Church in the Pacific is helping people adapt to climate change – for example by introducing salt tolerant plants and by encouraging planting of mangroves to protect the coastline – but they can’t fight it on their own”.

Elizabeth added, “We need an agreement that sees countries reducing their emissions and aiding the transition to a low carbon world. The UN climate talks in Paris are a key opportunity in moving the world towards that fairer, low-carbon future. The UK and other rich countries need to commit funds to help vulnerable countries adapt.  We have to protect this planet and enable the world’s poorest to develop in a sustainable way”.

Through the walk, Elizabeth hopes to raise the profile of Christian Aid’s climate change campaign, The Big Shift. Christian Aid is urging the Government to leave fossil fuels in the past and is encouraging supporters to sign a petition which will be handed to the Executive Secretary of the UN conference, Christiana Figueres.

For more details, or to sign the petition, visit www.christianaid.org.uk/ActNow/climate-justice/.

Learn more about the pilgrims and why they are walking on the Pilgrimage2Paris website: pilgrimage2paris.org.uk.

Document Actions