Members of Extinction Rebellion and other environmental groups from different nations gathered in the city ahead of a daunting challenge that will see them trek through various checkpoints before reaching the United Nations Climate Change conference – or COP26 – at the end of the month to call on politicians to enact ‘real change.’ Among those walking will be seven people from Spain, one from Italy and two from the UK.
The Spanish contingent reached Portsmouth after taking the ferry from Bilbao and were hosted by city climate activists on Friday, October 1.
It is planned the journey will take them 29 days, averaging 20 miles a day – so about 580 miles in all – and one member will drive their van full of supplies for each leg, while generous supporters nationwide will provide food and accommodation along the way.
Jose Luis Martinez, one of the organisers, said it stemmed from the phrase ‘if we can do it – they can do it.’
The 67-year-old from Zaragoza said: ‘If we can do something as extreme as walking for 29 days, braving the British weather, politicians can act too.
‘If we can make this great sacrifice then they can be responsible and do what is right for us all.’
Their grand journey will start from Guildhall Square in Portsmouth on Saturday and from there they will walk to Southampton.
Other activists will join them for sections of the journey and for the final stage they will meet other groups, including Camino to COP, who have been walking from London and Bristol since September, and a group of activists from Poland.
Nicky Brooks, 56, who was born in the UK but has lived in Zaragoza for six years, added: ‘When we approached other activists earlier this year about this they were all so supportive because I think they understand how important this is. It feels like a final chance to make a change.
‘And the welcome we have had in Portsmouth has been so warm, it’s been overwhelming.’
The group is organised by Extinction Rebellion, Ecologistas en Accion and the Alianza por la Emergencia Climatica