COP26: Line in the Sand

Over 1500 people at Line in the Sand event in St Andrews, West Sands, Sept 2019.

What is it ?

Line in the Sand is a Fife Wide, participatory demonstration of the need for action on Climate Crisis that focuses on creating a line of people or objects across an area of the local community that is being impacted. Line in the Sand of course refers to a physical line of people (or things), but also refers to having reached a limit – we will no longer accept the status-quo, we are drawing a line in the sand for climate change. The line can be used to highlight the impact of the climate emergency, as a visual representation of rising sea levels.

The event creates a time for reflection and call for local action whilst linking into a Fife wide programme of activities aimed at raising the alarm, creating a wave of personal action and linking to the Global Climate movement. It aims to engage the local community of all ages without being confrontational or overtly political but gives an opportunity for residents to participate as they are able. This means that everyone can play a part and show their support and concern.

You can join the line at any event being organised in Fife, or can run your own event with your community – read on to find out more.


The Climate Crisis can feel too large, complex or political for many people even though the need to reduce emissions faster and deeper is becoming more obvious. We also need to adapt to the heating already “baked in” to the climate shown by record temperatures, drought, migration, forest fires and coral die-off amongst a long list. Creating resilience in our communities, infrastructure and services now.

This event invites your local community to participate in a simple non-political action that will create a legacy of empowerment and action. The event was first organised at St Andrews in 2019 and saw children (nursery  up to secondary school), local residents, university students and staff making a commitment to undertake more action locally that has led to local decision makers committing to increase action on the climate and ecological crisis and more community participation. The event was referenced in Parliament by the local MP as a need for action on renewable energy and also features strongly in our local Climate Action plans created by the University. It brought more people in from being passive to active on the issue.

Who is it for?

The event is for anyone who is concerned about the climate emergency and who wants to draw attention to the urgent need for action. We would hope to see people of all ages and from all walks of life. We have planned the “line forming” to take place at lunchtime to enable as many people as possible to take part.

The Line in the Sand event is not just for individuals, it is for communities too. We are encouraging communities across Fife to run their own Line in the Sand events on the 24th September. This will create a network of Fifers demanding climate action in the run up to COP26.

When will it take place?

Friday 24th September , 12 noon

With Glasgow hosting the Conference of Parties (COP26) on Climate Change in November Line in the Sand / Earth events will be an important part of building awareness across Fife. This date links to the Global Climate Strike organised by the Youth Movement, Fridays for the Future, led by Greta Thunberg and is during Climate Fringe Week, 18th to 26th September.

How can I get involved?

There are a number of Line in the Sand Events being planned across Fife – watch this space for further details. Bring your friends, family, colleagues and community groups – the more people that we can get to attend, the greater the impact. If you like, bring a placard to share your climate message or even dress up! We want to make a visual impact to send a message to government, communities and individuals that we need serious climate action now.

You can run your own Line in the Sand (or Earth, if you don’t live by the coast) event on the 24th September. Please read on to find out more.

Run your own Line in the Sand/Earth event

We would love to see a number of Line in the Sand events happening in communities across Fife on the 24th September (or thereabouts). This would send a strong message that the people of Fife are committed to taking action on climate. If you would like to run an event with your community, please contact Ali Macleod of Transition University of St Andrews for advice.

The following information will help you to set up and run your own event and is based on our experience of the 2019 Line in the Sand event in St Andrews.

Create the Vision

The event can be whatever you want it to be, as long as it has the Line in the Sand at its heart. With a small group of people, imagine the best place in your community to create the line. Consider its visual appeal, ease of access and vulnerability to the Climate Crisis. It could be sea level rise, increased wave/storm damage or vulnerability to drought or localised flooding. It could also be a around a feature or civic building.

Example event timeline

10.15Stewards briefing at Procession start and set up space
10.15Artworks started at Line in the Sand / Earth
11.00Pre-walk speeches
11.15Led March
12.00Gather on at line in the Sand / Earth venue
12.15Silence and photos Activity starts
12:30Stewards assist with participant exiting event
1.00Speeches finish
1.00Beach clean / Event Litter Pick or other activities

Get the People

  • Coordinator – someone who will hold the event together. Apply for permissions, confirm the schedule, build the team and ensure its safe
  • Communications – someone who will publicise and promote the event. Before during and after.
  • Community – someone who can make the contacts and build the crowd with the support of your team
  • Animator – someone who can get the crowd going and give them information, passion, and purpose during a procession and event.
  • Recorder – someone who is able to capture the event and tell the story to others. Photography, video, blogs, Vlogs.
  • Drone Pilot – this really helps to sell the scale and setting

Tick the boxes

You will probably need permissions from landowners, council and possibly the police. Its also good to make your community council/representative structures aware early in the process. We found that discussing the event with the local police and Fife Council transportation department representative allowed us to simplify the risk assessment and permissions process avoiding a road closure permit by using a police controlled rolling road closure for example.

Produce the media and communications

Produce the media and communications

These events are all about spreading the word and communicating a message. Invite local press or circulate a press release beforehand (Fife Free Press). Use social media to build support, celebrate during and after the event and encourage participants to share too. Use the hashtags #COP26Fife, #LineInTheSand, #ClimateActionFife, #BigFiveForFife and #FridaysForFuture. Remember to take photographs and videos of your event to share afterwards.

Build a Coalition

Contact local groups and organisations. Start with your easy wins (Green groups). Groups that already support these ideals. Then go to young people and residents groups. We had success with:

  • Nurseries via teachers and parents
  • Secondary Schools –  via parents of older children and socials networks
  • Student groups – instrumental in set up and running in St Andrews
  • Community / residents groups

You will need to “sell” the vision of what a line in the Sand/Earth can achieve for your community

Line in the Sand FLyer, St Andrews 2019

Ensure people go away with a job

It’s important to give a clear action that people can take away from the event. You don’t want all that energy and enthusiasm to go to waste so make sure your speeches, information at site and event media gets across something you can all achieve together.

We recommend using Climate Action Fife’s #BigFiveForFife campaign, which encourages people to pledge to one of 5 high impact, achievable climate actions (coming soon).

Covid considerations

The Scottish Governments Covid restrictions timetable  proposes that all major Covid restriction will be lifted by 9th August and this includes large events such as Line in the Sand. There should still be retention of good hygiene and social distancing (1m) within your event.

If you would like more information or advice about setting up your event, please email Ali Macleod at Transition University of St Andrews.