I think I have become a Climate Vision Pilgrim.
In 2010, I cycled from Paris to Santiago de Compostela, following in the footsteps (and, more recently, tyre tracks) of numerous pilgrims over the years. I repeated the ride in 2016 when I cycled from Vezelay to Santiago on one of the other pilgrim routes.
In 2015, four of us cycled from Truro to Paris to be there for COP21, the pivotal Climate Change Conference which led to the agreement to limit global temperature rise due to CO2 emissions to 2°C and to aim for 1.5°C. We carried with us copies of the Climate Vision report which assessed the way in which small simple changes to one’s lifestyle enabled significant reductions in personal carbon footprints. If ordinary people can do it, then world governments can do it too, and help us all move towards a bright, sustainable, carbon-free world.
Since then, atmospheric CO2 levels have permanently exceeded 400ppm and are still increasing; currently we are on a trajectory towards a 2.7°C rise and all the consequences for sea-levels and climatic extremes that flow from it. In the front line of the consequences of sea-level rise are low-lying countries, such as the Pacific island nations – including Fiji, who are chairing the current Climate Change Conference, COP23, in November 2017 in Bonn.
Thus we decided to continue the action we started two years ago, and cycle from Paris to Bonn, commencing our journey as before from Truro Cathedral.
Traditional pilgrimages usually start from where one lives and end at a particular holy site or shrine. Our pilgrimage started from a holy site – Truro Cathedral – and ended in urban centres dominated by secular interests. In our case too we were venerating the living planet earth rather than the mortal remains of a saint. In either case, the quest, for me, was a deeply spiritual one. To quote from the song which we played at Truro Cathedral as we were setting out to Bonn, “Evergreen, Everblue” by Raffi:-
“So come all united nations – “help this planet earth”
Children of one mother – “help this planet earth”
With love for one another – “help this planet earth”
For our sons’ and daughters’ future help this planet earth to stay
As it was in the beginning
We’ve got to see it through
At this point in time
It’s up to me, it’s up to you.”