18 September 2019 by Camilla Zerr
Climate change is harming the places we love to walk
From damaged coastal paths to disrupted seasons affecting the bees, guillemots, and capercaillies that make our UK habitats so unique, the impacts of a warming atmosphere can be seen by any keen walker.
At the Ramblers, we do our best to champion environmental protection and work both independently and with other organisations to make our environment more able to withstand the effects of climate change. For the staff who want to, taking part in this climate strike is part of fulfilling this commitment.
The value of coming together to speak up
There is an urgent need for change in the policies that govern not only the environmental protection of the landscapes we love, but also the transport strategies of the places we live in. Public mobilisation is one of the ways to show support for these changes and encourage the government to make them sooner rather than when it’s too late.
And it’s not just about mitigating the consequences of climate change on our landscapes: it’s about going right back to the start and helping reduce the emission of those very greenhouse gases that cause climate change and its impact.
How can the Ramblers help tackle the causes of climate change?
Transport is the highest greenhouse gas emitter out of all sectors in the UK, contributing to approximately a quarter of total emissions. But walking has no carbon footprint at all – only real footprints, of people connecting to their neighbourhood, of people standing up for a better, healthier way of life.
According to the Committee on Climate Change, walking and cycling rather than driving is a great way to reduce our carbon footprints. Given that 42% of all journeys are less than two miles long, there is real opportunity here to replace those journeys that are currently made by car with journeys on foot or by bicycle.
But that’s easier said than done when many people live in areas that are unsafe, unconnected and polluted to walk in, where accessibility, greening, seating or lighting are not properly considered. We need government, national and local, to enable people to walk and cycle in safe, accessible and green environments.
So what are we calling for?
This is why, alongside partners in the Walking and Cycling Alliance, we are calling for 5% of overall government transport spend to be allocated to walking and cycling, rising to 10% by 2025. This means more than tripling the estimated 1.5% of the transport budget which is currently spent on active travel by next year. We need government to enable people to walk and cycle on their everyday journeys in a safe, accessible, and green environment. This will create a real shift away from journeys by car which disproportionately contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change.
How is the Ramblers supporting the climate strike on Friday 20 September?
Many Ramblers staff will be leading a walk to join the young people, organisations and individuals supporting the climate strike near parliament, although our office will stay open.
We’re joining the strike because we want to protect the places we love to walk, and which are being harmed by climate change. We want to support the inspiring youth-led movement and help show that the impact of climate change is far-reaching and that action to counter this impact is urgent.
I feel very fortunate that I work for a charity that has agreed to support the strike and heartened by the Ramblers’ history of 85 years of working to protect the places we love to walk. Our successes have been achieved thanks to the extraordinary commitment of our volunteers and campaigners who have worked tirelessly to win protections for the countryside. Now, one of the biggest threats to our landscapes is climate change, and so we will keep up the fight.
We hope that other organisations will join us: the Global Climate Strike website has information and resources for organisations and individuals to get involved.
Let us know how you’re getting involved on Twitter @RamblersGB #GlobalClimateStrike #KeepOnRambling
Find out more about Ramblers campaigns:
• Our England Coast Path campaign is well on its way, with work having started on all its stretches, with the aim of creating the latest National Trail.
• The Walking Neighbourhoods campaign celebrates the urban places that truly put people walking first, and encourages local councillors to make improvements to the walking environment.
• Our Keep On Rambling campaign celebrates the 70th anniversary of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, and the Ramblers’ 85 years history of campaigning.