Voices of pilgrims on Cop 21 climate justice Pilgrimage to Paris

27 November 2015

Elizabeth Perry is from Middle Woodford in Wiltshire, England, and works with the Anglican Alliance’s Agents of Change programme. She is walking the pilgrimage.

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.

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.

I was working for the Anglican Alliance in the Solomon Islands earlier this year when it was hit by Cyclone Pam. I got caught up in it a bit 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.

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.


Caroline Pomeroy is a representative of Climate Stewards and the A Rocha family. She is from the Diocese of Bath and Wells. She is cycling the pilgrimage.

As soon as I heard people talking about a Pilgrimage to Paris, I knew I wanted to cycle it. I was living in Rwanda in 2009, and well remember the hopes for a strong climate deal at the Copenhagen COP and the crashing disappointment of so many when the talks failed.

Our motivation is Jesus’ command to ‘love your neighbour’. This includes our poorest and most vulnerable global neighbours who are suffering first and worst from the impact of climate change, and our future neighbours – our own children and grandchildren – who will have to deal with the effects of our inaction.

This bike ride is my way of saying that I care. As a Christian who believes that “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” and that God has given us humans a mandate to look after it, I want to add my voice to the wave of concern from people of all faiths and none as we seek to persuade our leaders to agree a binding climate deal.

As one of the most privileged people in one of the richest countries of the world, I want to show my love for my global neighbours whose lives are being affected first and worst by climate change.

As a representative of Climate Stewards and the A Rocha family, I want to be a part of demonstrating to the scientific community and the wider world that Christians care passionately about the planet on which we live, as well as the 7 billion people we share it with.

[The] horrific terrorist attacks [on 13 November] have thrown our plans into question, as everyone weighs up the pros and cons of going to Paris at this time. Paris is known as the City of Light, and a common image going around the internet this week has been the Eiffel Tower lit up at night, accompanied by Martin Luther King’s words ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only love can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that’.

So [I see a double purpose for] our pilgrimage [now]: to identify with our global neighbours suffering from the effects of climate change, and to show solidarity with our French neighbours, to weep with those who mourn, and to overcome fear, darkness and hatred with hope, light and love.

Many of us have been preparing for this ride for months will not be stopped by threat of terrorism. Our purpose is to make our voices heard in Paris, which will be harder now that the big march in Paris is cancelled, so all the more important that we mobilise others to lobby for climate justice.



As the UN Paris Climate Summit begins on 30 November, we enter the season of Advent – a time of hope and expectation for Christians. Many of us are concerned about the threat climate change poses to the earth – but as we wait for the birth of the “light of the world,” our faith in Him gives us confidence to pray for a positive outcome in Paris.

These climate talks are key. Will you join Christians around the world in praying for a meaningful and just global climate agreement to emerge? And will you encourage others to join in prayer, too?

  •           Join the 24/7 prayer for the summit and pledge to pray at a specific hour
  •          Sign up to receive a daily prayer by email
  •          Follow @prayfastclimate on Twitter to be informed of urgent issues for prayer during the summit

Photo: Elizabeth (front right) with other COP21 pilgrims on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, following a service of blessing on 13 November before setting off for Paris. Credit: Christian Aid.