Photo by Laurent Cipriani for the Associated Press

After the French government cancelled demonstrations in Paris citing security in the wake of the November 13 terrorism attacks, climate-change protestors found a different way to make their will known: with their shoes. The day before climate negotiations began on Monday, 11,000 pairs of shoes appeared in the Place de la République in silent protest of inaction in the face of a warming planet. Among the people represented? His Holiness Pope Francis, who added a pair of shoes bearing his name and the inscription Laudato Si (“Praised be”) to the scores of others.

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Photo by Eric Gaillard for Reuters


“Like thousands of Parisians who can’t march, Pope Francis will be represented by ‘marching shoes’ laid out at the start of route,” Emma Ruby-Sachs, acting executive director of Avaaz, the activist network that started the shoe collection, said in a statement. “Together with the hundreds of thousands who will take to the streets around the world, the Pope is sending a powerful signal that leaders arriving for the Paris summit simply must not ignore.”

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon also contributed a pair, along with a message. “As the world gathers in Paris to stand up for climate action, let us also stand in the shoes of all the victims of terrorism, war and persecution,” he wrote on an accompanying piece of paper.

Laurence Tubiana, France’s main representative at the climate talks, sent in a pair, as did designer Vivienne Westwood and actress Marion Cotillard

All shoes in serviceable condition will be donated to local charities, according to Avaaz.