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Extinction Rebellion Families Islington co-founder on ditching meat and flights to reduce her carbon footprint

PUBLISHED: 13:36 18 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:46 18 October 2019

Extinction Rebellion Families Islington. Picture: Miranda Irwin

Extinction Rebellion Families Islington. Picture: Miranda Irwin

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Miranda Irwin is a founding member of Extinction Rebellion's local families group. She told Lucas Cumiskey how she wants it to be a space where kids don't feel worried about the future, but empowered

Miranda Irwin and her children. Picture: SuppliedMiranda Irwin and her children. Picture: Supplied

Children and young people following the example of Greta Thunberg have been some of the most vocal calling for action on climate change this year - but now parents, like Islington's Miranda Irwin, are standing alongside them.

A founding member of Islington's "Extinction Rebellion Families" group, Miranda gave up meat and flying to reduce her carbon footprint, but says she wouldn't judge anyone for not doing the same as "the solution doesn't lie with individuals, but with system change".

Miranda recalls how the Islington branch was formed after children took letters and flowers to Jeremy Corbyn's constituency office in April, urging the Labour leader to help them stop climate change.

"The children had written him letters asking him to declare a climate crisis," said Miranda.

"He then did, which was very empowering for the children. I think they felt they played a part in that, so it was an amazing experience for them."

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Islington XR Families have since been involved in organising the Friday school strikes inspired by Swedish environmentalist Greta and, more recently, singing songs and making banners in Trafalgar Square as part of the Autumn Uprising occupation.

"I think the children are aware about the climate emergency anyway," said Miranda. "I do not necessarily think it's political to protect the environment.

"What we do is very positive and it's not based around telling them scary stories about what the future might hold; it's more about creating a space for children where they don't feel worried."

Miranda says she and her children have made friends with lots of other families through their activism, creating a greater sense of community.

She distanced herself from the XR members who clamboured on top of trains at Stratford, Shadwell and Canning a week ago (Thu), which led to eight arrests and ugly scenes as a man was dragged off a train by commuters. Like an overwhelming majority in the wider XR movement - some 78 per cent - she had opposed the action when it was first discussed days beforehand. It went ahead anyway.

"I didn't want that to happen," she said. "I was not comfortable with that at all - it was targeting the wrong people."

She's ditched air travel and took her kids on holiday to France by train last summer, and won't cook meat in the house any more.

But she said: "I wouldn't tell someone not to fly when businesses are sending people around the world. [...] I wouldn't judge anyone for eating meat. The solution doesn't lie with individuals, but with system change that lets people lead de-carbonised lifestyles."

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