Henley residents of all ages gathered outside St Mary’s Church on Saturday morning to demand action on climate breakdown. Over 75 people took part in the demonstration, marching from the Friends Meeting House to St Mary’s before sharing in a two minute respectful silence for the planet. The event took place on the ‘Global Day of Action for Climate Justice’, organised to coincide with the COP26 summit in Glasgow.
Whilst world leaders and experts met at COP26 to discuss the global problem of climate change, Henley residents gathered to express their concern over the action being taken by governments— or rather, the lack thereof. Patrick Fleming, of Greener Henley, said, “We are here to wake up people, wake up politicians and say we are concerned, in fact we’re downright scared about what isn’t happening.”
Patrick continued, “This is our way of signalling to the Prime Minister and to the Government and to Sharma that we are deeply concerned about the lack of progress that is being made at COP26. There’s a lot of people saying big figures, billions of pounds, but when you get down to it, it’s business as usual. Business as usual isn’t going to cut it; it’s just going to be more carbon. They’re talking about bringing things in by 2050? It’s too late. We want action, we want action now, and we want the right action.”
Outside St Mary’s Church, Rev Jeremy Tayler led the group in a two minute silence, encouraging people to take personal responsibility and to think about the ways in which we can all help the planet. His two daughters, Ginny and Blanche, were also present at the demonstration. Ginny said, “I’m worried about climate change because if people don’t act soon enough, it can turn out really serious. It already is quite serious and we don’t want it to get worse than it already is.”
As anxiety around the climate emergency continues to mount, with a recent survey revealing that nearly 60% of children feel ‘very worried’ or ‘extremely worried’ about the climate, Father Jeremy Tayler had words of advice for finding hope. “I don’t think situations are ever really hopeless,” he said. “From a Christian point of view, we have a profound sense of the weakness of human beings, but we also have a very profound sense of human beings as made in God’s image. We have an amazing capacity both for good and for evil, and it’s a question of trying to turn ourselves towards the good. I’m quite sure we can get to grips with this problem. There are big problems at the moment, with systematic attempts to undermine the case for action. There’s a need for truth and for honesty, and I think that’s why these gatherings are important. Different people, different generations coming together — that’s where the hope lies.”
If you would like to get involved in climate action in Henley, there are a number of organisations you can join. Patrick Fleming, from Greener Henley, is more than happy to help find the best group for you. “Email me at Greener Henley,” he said. “It comes to my phone and I will answer it straight away. I’m happy to act as a clearing house. There are many, many, many people in Henley who are already doing stuff, and if someone is interested and wants to join in, we will signal them in the right direction.”