COP26 Pilgrimage heads through Bo'ness on route to Glasgow climate change conference

A pilgrimage from Dunbar to Glasgow to reflect on the climate and ecological crisis ahead of COP26, made its way through Bo’ness this week.

Thursday, 28th October 2021, 9:59 am
The pilgrimage leaving Bo'ness Foreshore, heading for Grangemouth, with Grangemouth Ineos in the background. Photo: Michael Gillen.

Pilgrimage for COP26, which launched on October 17 and arrives at the event in Glasgow on Sunday, works with cultural, community and interfaith organisations to reimagine what it means to be ecological.

The pilgrimage travelled from South Queensferry to Bo’ness on Tuesday and then after staying at St Catharine’s Church, headed from Bo’ness to Falkirk via Grangemouth on Wednesday. The group also visited the Hippodrome on Tuesday night for a free showing of a film about the plight of climate refugees

Reverend Willie Shaw, rector of St Mary's in Grangemouth and St Catharine's in Bo'ness, took part on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The pilgrimage is making its way from Dunbar to Glasgow. Photo by Michael Gillen.

He explained why: “It’s the most important thing in the world. And the situation is getting worse.

"I’m the minister in Grangemouth and Bo’ness, so for me, straddling these towns and passing through the refinery every day, I love the animals that live along here, this place is amazing. The heart of all the climate change issues can be seen around here.”

Speaking on Wednesday after passing though the oil refinery in Grangemouth, Rev Shaw added: “There are about 25 of us walking at the moment and we are meeting another 20 people at the Peace Pole, and potentially another group from Holland. I believe there is another pilgrimage from Poland in the area.

"People like myself have been joining this pilgrimage for a short while and then they carry on.

Representatives from churches including St Mary's, Grangemouth and St Catharine's, Bo'ness, took part in the pilgrimage. Photo: Michael Gillen.

"It’s been lovely the past couple of days. We passed though Hopetoun House and the industrial spots around Bo’ness, and right through the refinery. We have been thinking about what needs to change for climate justice and what gives us hope.”

Jonathan Baxter, the primary organiser of Pilgrimage for COP26, said: "On this part of the route we have certainly been thinking about the industrial changes that need to be made. It was interesting as we walked through Grangemouth that people on the site gave us a wave and a cheer.

"It shows that it’s not ‘us versus them’. They want to change as well.”

Speaking about the Pilgrimage as a whole, he added: “It’s going wonderfully well. It has been a rich experience.

Pilgrimage for COP26. Photo by Michael Gillen.

"We walked from Dunbar to Edinburgh, held a public engagement in Musselburgh, then four days in Edinburgh with lots of events.

"The past two days we have met people as we have went, and there was a cinema event at the Hippodrome.

"We basically don’t want to open up any more fossil fuels. We need to shut them down by 2030, which is a big if just now but we want to show people that it can work

"It’s not about losing workers, it’s about finding different work and more sustainable work.

"Grangemouth as a site has been there since the 1920s and it’s constantly changing. So it’s about how we change it now for the future."