Thousands—Including Pope Francis—Use Shoes To Protest Climate Change

Priyanka Prasad
11,000 empty shoes were left in Paris to symbolize a collective desire to fight climate change.


In anticipation of the climate change talks in Paris that began today and will continue for the next 12 days, thousands of individuals wished to rally together and protest the impending threat to our world.

Unfortunately, Parisian police banned any large-scale protests, noting safety concerns (understandable, given the fear after the Paris attacks). Thus, environmental activists found a way to be creative—over 11,000 shoes were placed in Paris’s Place de la Republique as a stand-in for their owners.

The shoes symbolized the thousands of people who wanted to gather and voice their concerns regarding climate change. Among these individuals? Pope Francis and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

Pope Francis left a simple black pair of Oxfords, while Moon provided two pairs of sneakers. The Pope has been an extremely outspoken proponent for combating climate change, even stating today that “I can say to you 'now or never'… We are at the limits. If I may use a strong word I would say that we are at the limits of suicide.”

According to The New York Times, “The ‘Marching Shoes’ installation was meant to show the commitment of French people on climate issues,” as elucidated by Emma Ruby-Sachs, deputy director of Avaaz, the global organization that began the movement.

The shoes represented a peaceful yet powerful and moving way to make a statement, emboldened all the more by the contributions of two of the world’s most influential leaders.

Banner Image Credit: Twitter, @ClimateReality