Walk for the Earth 2002

Walk For The Earth 2002 took place in Calderdale at the very end of August. Timed to take place in the run up to the Johannes-burg Earth Summit, and with a theme of climate change, it put the spotlight on innovative grassroots projects in the Calder Valley and to draw attention to an insane plan to mine thousands of tonnes of coal and clay from an unstable hillside above Todmorden.

The Walk began in dramatic fashion on the Pennine watershed above Todmorden. The town suffered devastating flooding in the year 2000, and local people have put huge energy into tree planting and ecological restoration in the area, as a way to reduce run-off and minimise the valley's vulnerability to climate change.

From the watershed, the walk made its way eastwards to Hebden Bridge - home to an assortment of sustainability projects. Here an evening event focused on housing. As house prices rise, there is a danger that expensive, profit-orientated developments could hugely increase the area's "ecological footprint", whilst offering no benefit to the local community.

Day two of the Walk had the theme "think global, eat local". The route followed the Rochdale Canal and a newly opened Sustrans cycle way, to a thriving organic market garden for a picnic and celebration.

The third and last day of the Walk took place as world leaders gathered for the final week of the Johannesburg summit. Since Rio, global carbon dioxode emissions have increased by 2% per annum, in spite of scientific recommendations that a cutback of over 60% is needed to stabilise atmospheric concentrations. The walkers took part in a publicity event in Halifax with an enormous ten tonne weight, representing annual per capita carbon dioxide emissions from the UK. The Mayor of Calderdale officially received a "Ten Tonne Challenge", calling on the council to switch all its buildings to renewable energy suppliers, and to take a range of energy efficiency measures. Challenges will also be issued to other large organisations in the area in the coming weeks.

Billy, Walk for the Earth (01422 843 222, billy@frugal.fsnet.co.uk)

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