Why is London's Trafalgar Square covered in children's shoes this week?
Climate activism group, Extinction Rebellion placed 2,000 pairs of children’s shoes in London’s Trafalgar Square this week to urge the government to “remember children during coronavirus recovery.”
As the UK begins to relax lockdown measures, climate campaigners are keen to take to the streets once again and fight for environmental justice. Extinction Rebellion (XR) is calling on leaders of the country to continue to act on the climate crisis so that children aren’t left to shoulder the burden in future.
Children’s shoes were donated by local neighbours and teachers across London in order to make this happen. They were arranged in even lines across the square as a form of protest against the government bailing out carbon intensive industries. Campaigners argue that it is “writing off chances of keeping within Paris Climate Agreement promises.”
Young people, wearing masks and being careful to follow social distancing guidelines were seen holding up a banner with the words ‘Covid today > Climate tomorrow > Act Now’.
“As a young person during the pandemic, I’m urging the government to be led by the science. We had months to prepare for coronavirus, we’ve had decades to prepare for the climate crisis and still not enough is being done,” says 19-year-old Poppy Silk of XR Youth.
“Many young people feel suffocated by fear of what is to come,  we must move towards a green transition to prevent future crises.”
Why children’s shoes?
The idea to scatter kids’ shoes all over Trafalgar Square was inspired by parents and teachers who are “deeply worried” for what the future holds for their children, XR spokesperson Alanna Byrne tells euronews Living.
“The coronavirus response has shown us it's possible to make big changes to protect people if the political will is there,” Alanna says. The same level of response should now be applied to the ecological emergency, she explains, otherwise we will continue to “pass the buck down to children and young people, the generations most vulnerable to the climate crisis.”
In terms of reception, the powerful imagery has already begun circulating internationally, “we’ve struck a chord with a lot pf people around the globe,” Alanna continues.
“We cannot go back to the way things were before this crisis hit, we need to make the necessary changes now to protect people and planet."