St Albans Bishop backs climate change relay as it reaches Cathedral

Members of the COP26 Relay at St Albans Cathedral.

Members of the COP26 Relay at St Albans Cathedral. - Credit: Matt Adams

The fight to save the planet from irrevocable climate change reached St Albans Cathedral this week.

Young people taking part in the Relay to COP26 were greeted by the Bishop of St Albans on the final steps of their journey to St Albans Cathedral.

The relay has been organised by the Young Christian Climate Network, which describes COP 26 - when world leaders meet in Glasgow for critical climate negotiations this November - as a "decade-defining opportunity" to make a stand.

It comes as the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned this week of increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding, and a key temperature limit being broken in just over a decade.

It left St Ives on June 11, and aims to reach Glasgow on October 30, stopping off at various points along the route including London, Birmingham, Manchester and York.

The relay aims to draw attention to climate change as both a "reflection of and a cause of deep injustice in the world".

YCCN says: "The climate crisis arises from our abuse of God’s creation, and our broken relationship with our neighbours worldwide who suffer most from its consequences. We are convinced of the biblical mandate to care for creation."

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They lament the exploitation of creation and want to see systematic change on a global and a local scale.

They are calling on the UK government to reinstate foreign aid budget to pre-COVID levels, secure an agreement from rich countries to at least double the decade-old promise of $100bn a year for climate finance, ensure finance for climate-induced loss and damage; and to push for debt cancellation so climate-vulnerable nations can better confront the climate crisis and other urgent priorities.

The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, said: "It is wonderful to be able to greet the pilgrims to St Albans and as we work together for the good of the planet.

"Caring for creation is a theme that runs through the entire Bible, from start to finish. Christians are called to be good stewards of the planet and to care about the environment.

"This is an area where many young people are taking the lead.  

"Your relay to Glasgow for COP26 demonstrates that you are taking a lead and you are turning up the heat on climate issues. Stopping here in St Albans is raising the issue here. 

"I call on us all in the communities of this diocese to hear the call and turn up the heat on climate issues so we can turn down the heat on the planet."

St Albans Green Party leader, Cllr Simon Grover, said: "The Bishop is quite right to say that we all need to turn up the heat on climate issues.

"But this needs to extend beyond personal action into political action. We need local and national programmes to insulate housing. We need huge investment in public transport. We need to rebalance the tax system so it favours low carbon activity and discourages high carbon.

"This will only happen if politicians and policy makers feel the heat at the ballot box. Quite simply, if people want action instead of just words, they need to vote accordingly."

Gail Jackson, trustee of the local environmental charity Sustainable St Albans said: "The eyes of the world are on this global climate change conference, and it’s inspiring to see the Bishop of St Albans give whole-hearted support to these young people’s climate action.

"After all, its young people who will be most affected by the extreme weather and social disruptions caused by the climate crisis.

"People living in St Albans district demonstrate again and again that they want political representatives to have the courage to act to reduce carbon emissions.

"We urge everyone to stand up and be counted - just like the Bishop.

"Residents who want to do something are invited by Sustainable St Albans to sign up to the St Albans Climate Action Network’s ‘Count Us In’ initiative in the run up to COP26, and pledge to take one of the 16 most impactful steps to reduce carbon - see for more information.”