Focus – Climate Walks for Environmental Justice

Climate walks provide a way for individuals committed to the climate change issue to actively draw attention to the injustices brought about by society’s delay in tackling the serious subject of global warming. By walking through villages, town and countries, we can discuss and learn of the determination of others, offer support and enthusiasm. Knowing that the threats are not only a future danger for everyone on this planet, but seeing the extreme events globally now taking place annually, it is a means of communicating those fears and hopes to a wider audience so that they may begin to effect change at the higher political level where it is most needed. Since 1995 when COP-1 convened in Berlin, the pace of action has been at such a slow pace that each year now the world’s temperature increases to the point where soon it may be too late to avoid a 2C rise as emissions aren’t being addressed quickly enough. 

Could a global ‘People’s Pilgrimage’ help curb climate change? (From Christian Science Monitor – June 2015) On Monday, former Philippines’ climate change commissioner Naderev ‘Yeb’ Saño kicked off a six-month journey around the world to places hit hard by climate change, beginning in the Pacific island state of Vanuatu, still struggling to recover from the devastation caused by Cyclone Pam in March. The ex-negotiator, who grabbed the limelight at 2013 U.N. climate talks in Warsaw with emotional pleas and fasting after Typhoon Haiyan, said he and thousands of other “climate pilgrims” from Europe and beyond planned to converge in Paris before the Nov. 30 start of the U.N. conference where a new climate accord is due to be sealed. Climate change has begun to motivate religious leaders and believers over the past two years because “it has become an issue with a human face” as the effects of extreme weather – such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines- and sea-level rise have become clearer, he said. Saño plans not only to visit places of human suffering but also those where climate action is being taken, including efforts to boost renewable energy in India and Qatar, and to protect natural treasures like Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Two groups of walker heading to Katowice, Poland.  COP-24 talks take place starting December 2 in Poland, and walkers, or pilgrims, feel they can add to the  demand for action by world leaders  to the crisis the planet faces from climate change. The climate pilgrimage walkers from Rome believe that climate change is a matter of justice, of protecting the poor and the vulnerable among us. Walking is a non-violent action. By answering the violence of climate change with peaceful pilgrimage and prayer, we walk in the steps of global spirituality and answer the demand for radical yet peaceful action for the good in this world. Through the Climate Pilgrimage, we deeply believe we can be powerful witnesses of our respective faiths. The journey is a communion of people who come from different walks of life, from diverse faiths, but especially people from communities severely affected by the adverse impacts of climate change who are standing up for climate justice. Through the Pilgrimage, people from communities hard-hit by the climate crisis are walking in faith to deliver a message to the climate negotiators: the time for justice is now.  (Website)

 The walkers that began their walk from Bonn September 9th,  will go through the big main coal regions of Germany from North Rhine Westphalia via “Mitteldeutsches Revier” to the brown-coal region of the “Lausitz” and then northwards to Berlin. On their way they will pass by “points of pain” where Germany experiences the immediate and massive destruction caused by coal mining, as well as “points of hope and healing” where people make a difference. There will be some “action days” along the route as walkers stay for one day in different towns offering awareness talks to locals and information workshops for the pilgrims. Berlin is the political action stop-over where the  aim is to get in touch with politicians, challenging awareness of climate change. Friends of the Polish Ecumenical Council will lead walkers through their country down to Katowice. During the pilgrimage in Poland the focus is mainly on the aspects of climate justice and renewable energy. By this action, this long pilgrimage, we demonstrate our solidarity to all people who are already suffering from climate change. We believe and are convinced that climate justice is possible!

Visit TGG page on Climate Walks.