11 Year Old Walks from Yorkshire to London to call for a Price on Pollution

Youth activist Jude Walker is embarking on a 200 mile journey to drive support for a petition to introduce charges on carbon emissions.

On 25th July, 11 year old Jude Walker from Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire will begin a 200 mile walk from his home to Westminster to raise awareness about the need to implement a carbon tax.

The youth activist has spent recent weeks undergoing ten-mile training walks and sending letters to dozens of MPs whose constituencies he plans to walk through on the ambitious challenge.

Jude has received some incredible responses, including from Calder Valley Conservative MP Craig Whittaker - who met Jude after school to discuss the issue of climate change - and Brent North Labour MP Barry Gardiner - who called Jude “one of our next generation of climate leaders.”

Two MPs have also agreed to join him on the walk. Holly Lynch, the Labour representative for Halifax, and Milton Keynes Conservative MP Ben Everitt will meet Jude when he passes through their constituencies on Sunday 25th July and  Monday 9th August.

A carbon tax would charge companies based on the amount of CO2 or other greenhouse gases emitted – with more charged for the more they emit. It could help make it profitable for companies to switch to green or renewable alternatives. It could also provide the government with funding to put towards climate change mitigation measures - for example, tree planting and carbon capture technologies  - as well as cushioning households from the costs of the transition to net zero [1].

A petition urging the Government to implement stronger carbon pricing was launched in February by the Zero Carbon Campaign and has already garnered more than 35,000 signatures [2]. Political support has also been building behind the policy; with carbon pricing recently being endorsed by G7 and G20 ministers, as well as a host of world leaders [3].

Commenting on his motivations for embarking on the walk, Jude said:Part of my aim is to raise awareness for the Zero Carbon Campaign’s carbon tax petition. I kept reading IPCC reports, got increasingly concerned about climate change and thought about what I could do to make a difference. One day I read ‘This Is Not A Drill’, in it they said that it doesn’t matter what people do in the provinces, only in the capital city, where all the big businesses are based. And so, the idea struck me, what if rather than doing something in London I could walk to London.”

Hannah Dillon, Head of the Zero Carbon Campaign, said: "We are truly blown away by Jude's support of our campaign, and his resolve and determination to hold political leaders to account with regards to their climate commitments. At 11 years old, he understands better than most adults the severity of the climate and ecological emergency, and the imperative need to implement effective, economy-wide solutions to address it. It is outrageous that we continue to enable and actively subside the dumping of toxic greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere. As Jude has shown, the time has come to make polluters pay."

Jude’s mums Tamsin and Sarah said: “We have tried to put Jude off this idea, but he is adamant that he wants to do something to raise awareness about introducing a meaningful carbon tax. We suggested waiting until he was a bit older, but he said the climate emergency wasn’t waiting. Also, as COP 26 was happening in the UK this autumn, this summer would be the perfect time. We couldn’t really disagree with his reasoning and have chosen to support his walk.

“We are very proud of him and the many other young people across the UK, and the world, who are desperately trying to make us adults stand up and take responsibility for the Climate Emergency. While making personal changes to diet, lifestyle, etc, are all helpful, to reach carbon neutrality within a timeframe that will actually make a difference we need systemic change; we need governments to act, and a meaningful carbon tax will really help this.”

Jude is asking people and politicians to support his walk by signing the Zero Carbon Campaign’s petition to introduce charges on carbon emissions. 

You can keep up to date with Jude’s journey via his Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels.

[1]: Earlier this month, the Government announced that it was considering how money raised from carbon taxes might be used to mitigate any impacts that new net zero policies might have on low and middle-income households’ cost of living. The Zero Campaign has long advocated for such a policy, and also demonstrated how revenue from a carbon charge - which could reach £27bn annually by 2030 - could be used to support a green recovery from COVID-19 that facilitates the UK’s transition to net zero.

[2]:  The Zero Carbon Campaign’s petition was launched after a survey revealed that seven in ten people support calls for a carbon tax that would make polluters pay for their greenhouse gas emissions. A similar number (67%) said that a carbon tax was a fair way to raise revenue, and there was strong support for redirecting revenues towards creating green jobs and retraining workers (45%), investing the revenues in clean energy (44%), and using them to fund the NHS (44%). The survey of 2,000 UK adults was conducted by Opinium from February 9th to 11th, 2021.

[3]: G20 finance ministers collectively endorsed carbon pricing for the first time at talks held earlier this month, and at the G7 Climate and Environment Ministers’ Meeting in June, ministers committed to properly embedding carbon prices into economic and financial policy making. At Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate in April, many of the leaders mentioned carbon pricing as a necessary tool in climate change mitigation; with Antonio Guterres, Charles Michel, Kristalina Georgieva, Xi Jinping, Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin, Erna Solberg, Jacinda Ardern and Anna Borg all discussing putting a price on carbon in their keynote speeches.

Added: Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Photos from Hebden Royd