IF virtue is indeed its own reward then those who have purchased electric vehicles over the past two years will be feeling pretty good right now.

Motivated by a desire to cut emissions and taking seriously the role they can play in saving the planet, electric drivers have also likely been quietly smiling to themselves as they watch news reports of panic buying at the forecourts.

Alongside the quietly contented have also been the loudly smug who have taken to social media to signal their virtues. Usually such behaviour would require a rapid rebuttal response taking issue with such schadenfreude but on this occasion I think they are entirely right.

While it’s never fun to watch people gloat over the misfortunes of others, I have an admiration for those who put their money where their mouth is and electric drivers have certainly done that, accepting the limitations brought on by the lack of infrastructure, charging points and battery range but deciding that, on balance, such limitations are worth it in tackling the climate emergency.

Meanwhile, drivers of Chelsea tractors and diesel guzzlers are having to wait it out and make do with a different set of limitations brought about by the fuel shortage. If a wake up call was needed to motivate the general population to consider once more the merits of electric then the current crisis surely provides it.

The fuel shortage is also a reminder of a more important and altogether more wide reaching emergency when it comes to the wider issue of climate change.

Inspired by the Christian tradition of pilgrimage and history of Christian activism, a group of young people set out from Carbis Bay in Cornwall in June, just after the G7. They will arrive in Glasgow the night before COP26 in November. Their route is 1,200 miles and involves major events in 10 major UK cities. This weekend a group of relay walkers will reach the North East and they are inviting people to join their journey on Friday as they walk through Trimdon and Kelloe to Durham Cathedral before holding a rally in Durham’s Market Place. Over the weekend, their pilgrimage will take them through Chester-le-Street, Pelton and Gateshead before arriving at Newcastle Cathedral.

Under the banner “Rise to the Moment” the walkers will be accompanied – rather unusually – by a boat, a visual symbol of their belief that while we are in the storm of climate change, we are not in the same boat with the consequences of the storm being felt unequally across the world, as has been the case with Covid, where poorer countries and nations are without vaccines whilst other nations are throwing them away.

As the fuel shortage begins to ease over the coming days as people stop panic buying, let’s hope that the sense of panic caused by a lack at the forecourts will translate into a recognition of the real emergency unfolding before us as the impact of climate justice becomes increasingly urgent without the ability for any quick fix.

And, of course, one of the benefits of joining the pilgrims this weekend is that it doesn’t need any petrol.