Judith is miles ahead in climate change action campaign

Climate change campaigner Judith Simpson

Climate change campaigner Judith Simpson - Credit: Suzanne McFadzean Wedding Photography

While the delegates at next month’s COP26 environment conference will be arriving by carbon-guzzling planes, trains and automobiles, one East Devon resident is travelling there under her own steam.

Judith Simpson is planning to walk the 432 miles from her home in Kilmington, near Axminster, to Glasgow in an effort to raise awareness of climate change, and support a local charity.

The 66-year-old retired mental health professional aims to cover 16 to 18 miles a day and arrive at the conference when it opens on November 1.

COP26 is a crucial international gathering which was due to be held in November 2020 but was postponed due to the Covid pandemic.

For nearly three decades the UN has been bringing together almost every country on earth for global climate summits - called COPs - which stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. 

This year will be the 26th annual summit – giving it the name COP26. With the UK as President.

Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emission reduction targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century.

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To deliver on these goals, countries will need to: accelerate the phase-out of coal; curtail deforestation; speed up the switch to electric vehicles; encourage investment in renewables.

Judith said: “In light of the long awaited IPCC (Intergovernmental Plan on Climate Change) and the very stark warnings calling for immediate cuts in the use of fossil fuels – walking the 432 miles is the best I can think to do to demand immediate action from our and other world governments.

“This really is too important an issue to leave to ‘other people to sort out'. We all live on this planet and we all have a responsibility to do the right thing and demand that governments do the right thing too.

“For the continuing welfare of my children, grandchildren, future generations and all life on the planet, I want to raise this issue, locally, nationally and globally. The time is now and I am voting with my feet.”

A growing number of Kilmington villagers and some local businesses have pledged to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions in line with the aim of COP26 to keep the rise in global temperature warming to 1.5 degrees by 2050.

Many of Judith’s friends and neighbours suggested she should seek sponsorship for her epic adventure and she chose to support mental health charity Arc Axminster which, as a retired mental health professional, she has a strong affinity with.

Judith said: “I’d like to thank the many people who have asked me about the walk. Most have been very encouraging and supportive however, a couple of individuals have commented that I must be 'mad' or asked 'what good will it do?

“I shall of course be taking with me the long list of actions that the people in Kilmington were, and are, continuing to do to play their part in making changes, reducing their carbon emissions.

“My concern for a long time has been about the impact climate change has on the mental health of us all, the uncertainty it brings to all our futures, in particular younger people, our children, our grandchildren. Sadly the Climate Change emergency has become a common theme amongst people's mental health difficulties.”

Judith, who retired to East Devon in 2010 has two children, two stepchildren and six grandchildren.

She and her 70-year-old husband David and I jointly manage an area of woodland and meadow to enhance biodiversity

We have an allotment and grow most of our fruit and vegetables as well as having planted an orchard.

COP president-designate, Alok Sharma, said: “At COP26, we will work with partners to take forward action on protecting and restoring forests and critical ecosystems, and we will champion the transition towards sustainable, resilient and nature positive agriculture.”

You can sponsor Judith and show your support for Climate Change via her just-giving page


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