After another year of hot air, XR Sutton give council a shoe-ing

In Sutton, as in Croydon, last year’s declaration of a climate emergency by the borough’s leadership was nothing more than … hot air

Remember when the leaders of councils in south London declared that there was a climate and ecological emergency in their boroughs, when they were taking the political heat from more than just global warming?

And what have the councils across the capital done about their “emergency”? Next to nothing, of course, apart from contributing to hot air emissions into the atmosphere.

Which was why in Sutton this morning Extinction Rebellion were out on the streets to remind residents of the first anniversary since their council claimed green credentials.

XR Sutton placed 300 shoes in the high streets in Carshalton and Sutton, a temporary installation timed to reflect on the lack of action so far.

With banners declaring “This is an Emergency“, and “Inaction = Death”, the empty shoes are intended to draw attention to the many lives that continue to be lost as a result of ecological breakdown.

Passers-by, suitably socially distanced and masked, were asked if they would be willing to step inside the installation to put themselves in the shoes of others, those who are currently on the frontline of the climate emergency.

According to XR Sutton, “The people enduring the effects of the climate emergency are often the most vulnerable, the poor, the marginalised, indigenous communities, and overwhelmingly people of colour in developing countries. It is those who have contributed least to the creating the crisis and who are least equipped to deal with the effects.”

In the year that has passed since Sutton and Croydon councils made their tokenistic gestures, temperatures in the Arctic have hit 38-degrees, bushfires in Australia killed 34 people and potentially millions of animals, while Cyclone Amphan was the fiercest storm to hit the Bay of Bengal, this century resulting in 2 million people being evacuated in Bangladesh alone.

Inaction = Death: not that anyone at the local authority has noticed

Even closer to home, the impact of climate change has been noticeable, with Storm Dennis following Storm Ciara, and May 2020 going down in the record books at the driest ever.

In Sutton, the council committed to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030 – yet they have a contract with Viridor to burn millions of tons of rubbish at the Beddington incinerator until at least 2043. Sutton is due to publish their Zero Carbon plan in October – a mere 15 months since they declared their “emergency”.

A spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Sutton said, “We are calling on all residents to stop looking away, to face the reality of this emergency and to act now.

“We have seen through covid-19 that we can respond to an emergency situation and we have an opportunity to build a better world that is good for the planet and all that depend on it.

“We need to create a just transition that looks after all people, especially those most vulnerable and all of the creatures we share this planet with who do not have a voice.”

The shoes from the installation are to be donated to Shoe Aid.

XR Sutton is also staging online meetings via a Facebook page. If you want to find out more, click here.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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