On Friday 17th July, the local Extinction Rebellion group placed one hundred and fifty pairs of children’s shoes in front of the town halls of King’s Lynn and Downham Market to urge local councils to act on the climate crisis. Across the East of England, similar installations are appearing outside local seats of power – with rebels observing social distancing at all times. These empty shoes stand as a chilling reminder of the generations who will be most affected by the climate crisis: our children and young people.
While the tragedy of COVID is still unfolding, time is running out to prevent the worst of the next crisis. Rising sea levels will devastate our coastal areas and rising temperatures will decimate our crops. It is no longer enough to let all responsibility fall onto the actions of individuals. If we are to avert catastrophe, we need system-wide changes of the kind made for the coronavirus pandemic.
For several years now concerned members of the public, climate activists, and various councillors have been asking the leaders of the King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council to declare a climate and ecological emergency. Local government needs to take meaningful action to protect our borough against the devastating effects of climate change and the threat of flooding. Despite the International Energy Agency’s advice that we have only six months to prevent a post-lockdown rebound in carbon emissions and avert the climate crisis, the council has still refused to listen. On Thursday 9th July, the Borough Council voted not to declare a climate and ecological emergency.
This protest reminds the town and borough councils of the cost of their decisions. Today, the crisis is COVID-19. Tomorrow, it will be the climate. We need to act now.
You are failing us, but the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you and if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.Greta Thunberg