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Gravesend man planning 8-month trek home from Nepal to highlight climate change

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 December 2019

Deep in the Himalayas, Richard says climate change is already having a devastating effect. Picture: Richard Bayfield

Deep in the Himalayas, Richard says climate change is already having a devastating effect. Picture: Richard Bayfield

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A Gravesend man and Extinction Rebellion member is standing by his commitment to the environment by shunning flights as he makes his way back from Nepal.

Gravesend man Richard is determined the world opens its eyes to the plight of the global climate. Picture: Richard BayfieldGravesend man Richard is determined the world opens its eyes to the plight of the global climate. Picture: Richard Bayfield

Richard Bayfield told us he is ready for the journey to now take up to eight months, instead of a few hours.

He said: "I have been a Gravesend resident most of the life and have recently been heavily involved in setting up the local Extinction Rebellion group. I am currently in Nepal trekking and volunteering through to April next year.

"I am committing to not flying after 2020 so have decided to travel back to Gravesend by foot and bus and train to promote awareness around the climate and ecological emergency we find ourselves in.

"The basic idea is to trek across Nepal, into India and Delhi where I plan to connect with local XR groups and join in local protests.

Gravesend man Richard is determined the world opens its eyes to the plight of the global climate. Picture: Richard BayfieldGravesend man Richard is determined the world opens its eyes to the plight of the global climate. Picture: Richard Bayfield

"Then I go to Pakistan and Lahore and Islamabad before heading north through Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan via Astana and then to Russia and Moscow.

"I then plan to cross Europe connecting with local XR groups. I will start the trek by climbing Pisang peak in Nepal which is 6090m high, to unfurl an XR banner highlighting the effect global warming is having on the Himalaya and the fragile mountain communities.

"This is obviously a trek that is going to run for up to eight months."

Richard says he is on a sabbatical to travel around India and Nepal, volunteering and travelling.

He said: "Having been involved in climate change activism through Extinction Rebellion in the UK it was also the perfect opportunity to connect with local groups and understand the challenges faced in this part of the world.

"This has been driven by my involvement with a Bangladeshi protest group through XR before I left.

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"I became acutely aware that countries like Bangladesh have been suffering the effects of climate change for decades and this has been largely ignored by the western world. The idea for a pilgrimage for the climate came on a Kathmandu hostel rooftop.

"I was explaining how one of my heroes, Satish Kumar, undertook a pilgrimage for peace in the 60s and delivered a packet of tea to each of the leaders in the four nuclear super powers imploring them to have a cup of tea and think if they ever considered pressing the big red button to launch a nuclear device.

"This has always been a huge inspiration to me and the thought occurred that we need a modern pilgrimage.

"It would be a pilgrimage for the planet imploring every government around the world to bring forward policies to combat climate change and ecological breakdown.

"So why wait for someone else to do it? I decided it was time to take this upon myself and walk home from Nepal to the UK raising awareness of the impending climate catastrophe and connection with fellow activists wherever I can.

"This has become known as my Pilgrimage for the Climate."

He said a report has just been published highlighting the impact climate change was having upon the Himalayas.

Richard said: "The average temperature rise here is far higher than elsewhere; scientists don't fully understand the mechanism that drives this, leading to retreating glaciers and melting permafrost among a number of issues.

"This is having a devastating on the fragile local communities in the Himalayas.

"This will have an impact upon the surrounding areas and the rest of the world. This area holds the second largest deposit of frozen water outside of the poles, we don't yet fully understand the impact of losing much of this ice will have upon the environment and global temperatures.

"Therefore I have decided to start my pilgrimage with an ascent of Island peak, a 6200m high mountain in the Everest region, in order to unfurl an Extinction rebellion banner highlighting this issue to the rest of the world."

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