Sand art calls on world leaders to cut carbon emissions

Sand art calls on world leaders to cut carbon emissions

G7 summit 2021 — The giant sand art commissioned by sustainable footwear brand Allbirds is calling on leaders to use their global leadership position to drive down their carbon footprints today.

Yesterday two footprints appeared, etched into the sand of the bucolic Gwythian bay, opposite St Ives, Cornwall – the site of this weekend’s G7 summit. The potent display aims to urge leaders in attendance to ‘walk the walk’ when it comes to cutting carbon emissions. 

The G7 summit, taking place in St Ives and Falmouth this weekend, is the first in-person iteration of the meeting since the Coronavirus pandemic took hold in March 2020. Amongst the topics on the agenda are global Covid-19 recovery and the climate crisis. 

Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrived in Cornwall for the summit, tweeting: “I’ll be asking my fellow leaders to rise to the challenge of beating the pandemic and building back better, fairer and greener.” The tweet included a picture of Johnson arriving in the county, waving from the steps of a plane. 

Many were quick to point out the hypocrisy of Johnson’s words juxtaposed with the use of emissions heavy air travel. Data from 2019 shows that G7 countries pollute almost twice as much compared to global average emissions. 

The average person emits 4.7 tonnes of Co2 each year, whereas people living in G7 nations average 9.2 tonnes. In order to meet the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5 C, the UN stated that global emissions must drop by 7.6 per cent per year from 2020 to 2030. With the G7 countries producing a much greater amount of emissions, campaigners argue that these cuts must be focussed here. 

The disparity in production of global emissions is something that sustainable footwear brand Allbirds hope to highlight with the artwork which appeared on Gwithian Bay beach yesterday. The two footprints, created by Cornish sand artist One Man and his Rake, represent carbon emissions per person in the G7 compared to the global average. 

Last year, they became the first global fashion brand to put carbon labels on every product – so customers can understand the environmental impact of their purchases– and then open-sourced a proprietary version of their carbon footprint calculator, so that the rest of the industry could do the same. Allbirds has now extended this offer to political leaders and businesses in the G7 nations by ensuring all of its resources are free to download and use via  

Allbirds co-founder Joey Zwillinger said: “Climate change is the problem of our generation and we need to act now and act together. If we’re going to successfully tackle this mess that we’re in, we need to step it up a notch and start holding ourselves accountable.

“Nobody is perfect – including us – but we need to see the leaders of the G7 use their global leadership position to drive down their carbon footprints today, leading the way in the climate crisis.”

The G7 summit takes place this weekend between 11th and 13th June, with protests, demonstrations and stunts expected across the county. For full coverage, follow Huck on Twitter

Ben Smoke is Huck’s Politics Editor. Follow him on Twitter.

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