Guest post: Hope or determination?

Chris fist pumps the air

Chris Cayley asks, “Which is more important in the climate debate and why am I cycling again in the week before COP27?”

A few weeks ago Adam Woodhall, CEO of Lawyers for Net Zero, posted a poll on LinkedIn asking which we needed more, hope or determination. 

Around the time of the conservative leadership debates I watched Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss answer a question about climate action in ways that genuinely engendered feelings of anger and more like visceral despair. Thankfully, confirmation that Ride the Change ‘22 will go ahead has given me reasons to hope.

Hope in the shape of a bicycle

Ride The Change ‘22, a 240 mile cycle from Wales to Westminster ending on the day we hand over the presidency of COP to Egypt for COP27 is going ahead and I can’t wait.  

Ironically, this has of course come about because of the determination of several people and allows a trip to go ahead which is all about hope. 

Cyclists on Ride the Change to COP26
Hermione from Do Nation, one of the key people pushing Ride the Change forward this year

Last year, nearly 200 people took part in the first Ride The Change, a 520 mile cycle from London to Glasgow in the week before COP26. It was an incredible experience. Long days of cycling across the country, some beautiful scenery, some less so, lively conversation and debate, some challenging climbs (which took some determination) and above all hope. 

A pedal-powered climate community

There were people from all backgrounds and businesses, some in the frontline of climate solutions and clean technology as well as climate activism and many from businesses committed to sustainability. Everyone there was united in the cause of meaningful action to tackle the climate crisis. 

Every person on that ride came away with a sense of hope and renewed determination. 

When it was suggested we go again I, and many others, didn’t hesitate to say yes. However, the world has changed again in twelve months and it’s not been easy to get Ride the Change ‘22 off the ground. Last year we were coming out of the worst of Covid and people were hoping that 2022 would be a better year. Who could have predicted the devastating impact of a war in Europe, tangibly worse climate impact with extreme heat and appalling flooding in Pakistan (many would say that has been entirely predictable for some time!), and now an energy and cost of living crisis in the UK and Europe?

Determined to ride again

Somehow it seems even more important to ride again this year, to keep making noise about the issue and to do something to play a part in this ongoing battle for hearts and minds. 

Many of us were determined that it should happen again and are now excited and hopeful about the trip, the connections and bonds that will be made which do add up to progress and action back in our day to day lives.  

Cyclists arrive in Glasgow for COP

Since Adam posed his question (and I was surprised that the result of the poll was 90% determination) the word hope keeps popping up everywhere in things I’ve been reading. I think the battle for hearts and minds is being won and we’re moving towards the tipping point which George Monbiot talks about, the 25% of people committed and determined to take meaningful action which will make change unstoppable. He recently wrote this in an article in The Guardian: 

“We need real, inspiring alternatives, positive visions of a better world, rather than competing modifications of the disastrous ideology that got us into this mess. We need hope.”

Hopeful for the future 

I firmly believe that we desperately need hope to achieve what needs to be achieved. Determination without hope is just grim determination and more than ever we need visionary leadership that will inspire people and give us genuine hope for a fair and sustainable future. 

The debate about hope v determination rages in my head and my heart but continues to lean towards hope, and next month I’ll determinedly keep turning the pedals to get from Swansea to London.

Cyclists on the road to COP26, with wind turbines in the background.

Join me on Ride the Change

Whether you want to spend time bonding with colleagues, building relationships with customers, meeting new people working on fascinating projects across the sustainability space – or simply taking time away to pause and reflect – it’s all possible on Ride the Change.

There is just time to sign up, for one day or all four. Find out more and get your tickets here.

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