COP26 Pilgrimage - collecting soils

COP26 Pilgrimage – collecting soils

The pilgrimage to COP26 began on the morning of the 18th October 2021, leaving from outside John Muirs Birthplace in Dunbar. Pilgrims from all walks of life are making the journey from Dunbar to Glasgow over two weeks, some walking the whole way and others part of the route.  Along the way soils have been collected at different locations on the route, each of the soils has a significance, a story to tell, you can find out more about the pilgrimage journey, including the initial soil ceremony held in Dunbar Battery on the 17th and the stories of the soil in more detail in Natalie Taylor’s fellowship blog.

With the making of the cape and it’s jouney to the climate conference in Glasgow, we hope to highlight the  importance of our soils and inspire discussion and action in how we can protect and nourish our precious soils.

Scotland’s soils contain more than 3,000 megatonnes of carbon. This is about 60 times the amount of carbon held in our trees and plants, making soils our main terrestrial store of carbon. Agricultural soils have the greatest potential to hold more carbon – an estimated 115 megatonnes of it. This would be equivalent to 22% of total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from Scotland’s energy sector. We need to boost the carbon stock of Scottish soils, which appear to be losing carbon at rates not seen before. (NatureScot)

The Keeper of the Soils Cape has been worn by  NLA John Muir fellow Natalie Taylor and other pilgrims on the different stages of the pilgrimage.

From 17th – 29th October, at least 100 people from a wide range of cultural, community and interfaith organisations are undertaking a 70-mile Pilgrimage for COP26. This journey, organised to reflect on the climate and ecological crisis in anticipation of the talks, follows The John Muir Way from Dunbar to Kirkintilloch and St Ninian’s Way from Kirkintilloch to Glasgow. Along the route, there are exhibitions, family-friendly events and talks. The Pilgrimage is open to anyone who would like to join the walk, for all or part of the journey.

The pilgrims, from organisations including A+E, North Light Arts, The John Muir Trust and Interfaith Scotland, describe the initiative as a learning journey, where they hope to build a community of people committed to climate justice, who will take creative action to resist the causes of climate change today and in the coming years.

Jonathan Baxter, one of the organisers of the Pilgrimage for COP26 said: “We are undertaking this walk as a way to reflect on the socio-ecological crises of our time, bear witness to the impact of the fossil fuel industry, past and present, and be inspired by people and projects who are pioneering change in different ways. The pilgrimage is like a river with different tributaries flowing into it. We’re not walking with easy answers. We’re walking in humility. But with a fierce commitment to climate justice now and in the wake of COP26.”

Olga Bloemen, part of the pilgrimage support team said: “We’ll take time away from our daily routines to deepen our connection to ourselves, to one another and to the world we share. Through walking and resting, conversation and silence, planned engagements and unexpected encounters, we’ll deepen our awareness, expand our sense of time, and – most of all – practice our muscle of hope.”