The ecumenical Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) is currently undertaking a 1,000-mile relay pilgrimage from Cornwall to the Glasgow COP26 climate summit in November. The first group left the G7 meeting in Cornwall on 13th June. The young climate activists have visited Falmouth and Plymouth, Cardiff, London and Oxford so far and will reach Glasgow at the end of October. Columban JPIC is supporting the relay with media attention.
The walkers want to see systematic change on a global and a local scale, and also raise awareness of, “both our responsibility as Christians and our passion to engage in creation care theology, individually and corporately.” Among demands is fair climate finance and calling on the UK government to reinstate the foreign aid budget to pre-COVID levels.
“It was wonderful to meet all the local people who came to support us, either through joining and guiding the walk or just through wishing us well and sending us off.” She said the hospitality of churches along the way was much appreciated.”
“There was 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. 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 impacts”. I personally was just seven 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.”
“In February 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic, I addressed the General Synod of the Church of England, urging them to act big and act fast in relation to climate action. What was required was not more documentation but clear plans, clear actions, clear deadlines. At that meeting, the Synod voted to adopt a 2030 net-zero carbon emissions target and are on their way to achieving that target. I know that legislative boards of other Church denominations have set similar targets.
God’s creation is a gift, one that we have been tasked with the stewarding of. I believe that it is not enough just to recognise that climate change is a threat to God’s creation. We must accept and acknowledge that we are to blame for this, and it is our responsibility to fix the problem. The climate crisis is a reflection, and a cause, of deep injustice in the world. This crisis arises from our abuse of God’s creation, and our broken relationship with our neighbours worldwide who suffer most from its consequences.”
Fr. Sean McDonagh, Ellen Teague and James Trewby have arranged to represent the Columbans in Glasgow for COP26 1st-12th November. There will be days of action 5th-6th November, and an alternative summit 7th-9th November.
The Young Christian Climate Network is an action-focused community of young Christians in the UK aged 18-30, choosing to follow Jesus in the pursuit of climate justice. They aim to connect young Christians into an inclusive community engaged with climate justice and to take and facilitate collective action towards climate justice, motivated by faith.
Prayer for COP26
Creator God, giver of life, you sustain the earth and direct
the nations. In this time of climate crisis, grant us clarity to
hear the groaning of creation and the cries of the poor.
Challenge us to change our lifestyles. Guide our leaders to
take courageous action. Enable your church to be a beacon
of hope. And foster within us a renewed vision of your
purposes for your world, through Jesus Christ our Lord,
by and for whom all things were made.
Archbishop of York