Insulate Britain protesters seen walking onto the M25
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On Thursday, 49 arrests were made on the Dartford crossing after protesters infuriated drivers by blocking roads – one of whom sprayed ink in the faces of the eco-warriors. This morning, 10 more arrests were made between junction 28 and 29 of the M25. Two more groups of protesters sat down on the motorway at junctions 21 and 22 later in the day.
It is the 17th time in six weeks Insulate Britain has caused disruption on the roads, despite a nationwide injunction against protesters covering the “entire strategic road network”.
On October 14, Insulate Britain announced it would suspend protests until October 25 ahead of COP26 – to give the Prime Minister a chance to announce new insulation plans.
The group wants all social housing to be insulated by 2025 in the face of nationwide fuel poverty – and for all of the UK’s non-insulated houses to be insulated by 2030.
On October 19, the Government released its much-anticipated Heat and Buildings Strategy.
The policy provide grants of £5,000 for households to replace gas boilers with low-carbon alternatives, such as heat pumps.
But the funding pot of £450m over three years, enough to fund 90,000 pumps, has been widely criticised as insufficient, given there are around 25 million gas boilers in the UK.
Insulate Britain appear determined to go on blocking roads until its demands are turned into real policy.
The activist group, which includes priests, doctors, and teachers, was set up by members of ‘Extinction Rebellion’ (XR) and it is expected they will join XR in campaigning outside the COP26 summit in Glasgow next week.
Insulate Britain says “the UK can take a strong leadership role by demonstrating real action” at the COP26 climate summit which will welcome global leaders from October 31.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson seems to have lost faith in how much real change COP26 can achieve.
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In a question-and-answer session at Number 10, he said: “It’s going to be very, very tough, this summit, and I’m very worried because it might go wrong.
“We might not get the agreements that we need.
“It’s touch and go, it’s very, very difficult … It’s very far from clear that we’ll get the progress that we need.”
Insulate Britain argue that, in order to meet UK commitments under the Paris Agreement to stay below 1.5C, emissions from heating and powering homes must be reduced by 78 percent in less than 15 years – and then to zero by 2050.
The campaign group estimate that nearly 15 percent of the UK’s total emissions comes from heating homes, and that the UK needs a nationwide programme to upgrade at least 13 million homes.
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Climate columnist Donnachadh McCarthy said the plan would cost the Government a minimum of six billion pounds per year until 2035, and suggested funding for the HS2 fast train should be redirected to an insulation scheme.
According to Mr McCarthy Insulate Britain is not just about climate change objectives, the plan hopes to fight energy poverty too.
In the UK, 8,000 pensioners a year die from living in cold homes and five million people are living in fuel poverty, having to choose between turning on the heating or buying food.
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