They won't go around the world in 80 days but walkers in the longest-ever protest march in British history are going to great lengths by criss-crossing the United Kingdom and Ireland to draw attention to climate change - writes Martin Revis.
Sponsored by Christian Aid, an agency of 41 denominations in Britain and Ireland, the "Cut the Carbon" marchers began their 1000-mile (1610 kilometre) trek on 14 July 2007 in Bangor, Northern Ireland. The march will end in early October in London, where the walkers will present a petition to Prime Minister Gordon Brown that will press for urgent action to cut carbon dioxide emissions.
The British prime minister will also be offered thousands of shoelaces tied together - organizers hope for 1000 miles of them - to illustrate the backing for the event. Supporters across Britain and Ireland are invited to send their used shoelaces. They will receive in return from Christian Aid a new pair bearing the march's logo, plus a written message to wear as a symbol of support for the march.
Behind the gimmicks and carnival atmosphere as supporters join the marchers for rallies and concerts by celebrities en route, organizers say the intention is to deliver a precise message.
The petition for Brown urges the introduction of legislation to make British companies declare their carbon dioxide emissions according to an agreed mandatory standard, and for the country to push for an international agreement to cut emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
The 18 international core walkers who intend to walk the whole route include Geoff Davies, former Anglican bishop of Umzimvubu in South Africa's Eastern Cape province, and the Rev. Neil Cutcliffe, another Anglican from Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, who is taking part on behalf of all mainstream Irish churches.
Davies is known as the "green bishop", principally for his work as director of the South African Faith Communities' Environmental Institute. Both men have stressed the urgency of the climate change crisis.
"People see it as a problem for the future and how it will affect their families but often don't realise it is already impacting on people in poor countries," said Cutcliffe.
[With grateful acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches]