Insulate Britain has “deeply” apologized for causing massive disruption on major roads outside London after the Prime Minister called the protesters “irresponsible crisp”.
Climate activists have blocked highways near London, including the M25 and M4, for the past three weeks to protest the government’s lack of action on house insulation.
Speaking on LBC earlier this week, Boris Johnson said: “I think they are irresponsible crispers who are basically trying to keep people from going about their day-to-day business and causing massive damage to the economy.”
He added that his government “will give the police the powers they need to put an end to their reckless and selfish behavior.”
And in a speech at the Conservative Party conference on Tuesday, Home Secretary Priti Patel said she “will not tolerate so-called eco-warriors trampling our way of life and depleting police resources. “.
She announced plans to increase maximum penalties for highway disruption, as well as criminalize interference with key infrastructure such as roads, railways and the press.
But despite an apology from Insulate Britain, the group’s spokesperson said that unless politicians take action on climate change, “these inconveniences will continue.”
Climate activists have caused major disruption to traffic by blocking the UK’s busiest motorway to protest the government’s lack of action on house insulation.
Dozens of Insulate Britain activists have been arrested in weeks of protests which have seen some stick to the M25 and other highways during rush hour.
More than 100 Isulate Britain protesters received an injunction against the roadblocks at the Royal Court of Justice on Tuesday.
Origins of the group
Insulate Britain is an “offshoot” of the climate change protest group Extinction Rebellion (XR), ITV News reported.
The smaller group’s Facebook page confirms that Insulate Britain was “created by people from XR and related networks”. But while the two use similar tactics of mass disruption and civil disobedience, the two groups are not officially affiliated.
Insulate Britain has been holding campaign meetings “since at least June 2021,” LBC said, and was “officially formed” in August.
Campaigners are calling on the government to renovate all UK homes to make them more energy efficient, in order to meet UK climate change targets under the Paris Agreement.
According to Insulate Britain’s website, the country’s 29 million homes are “Europe’s oldest and least energy efficient housing stock”, with almost 15% of the UK’s total emissions coming from heating homes. houses.
The UK “needs a national program to modernize almost every home,” campaigners said, but the government “does not have a strong long-term national strategy with a funding mechanism in place to renovate our homes. houses “.
Insulate Britain has launched a petition listing two key demands Downing Street must respond to before the protests end:
- Fully fund and take responsibility for insulating all social housing in Britain by 2025.
- Produce within four months a legally binding national plan to fund and take responsibility for the complete insulation renovation, at no external cost, of all houses in Britain by 2030.
According to a recent YouGov poll, the British public is far from fond of the group – only 16% had a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” opinion of the protesters, while 53% had a “somewhat unfavorable” or “very favorable” opinion. unfavorable opinion ”of them.
However, some prominent personalities have supported the group. Green MP Caroline Lucas told Sky News over the weekend that her party “believes nonviolent direct action is legitimate when other forms of trying to raise issues with the government have failed.”
“In emergency situations we have to take emergency measures and I think that’s what these protesters were doing,” added the former head of the Greens.
Despite this argument, blocking the roads will clearly “alienate some people,” wrote Oscar Berglund, professor of social policy at the University of Bristol, and Graeme Hayes, reader in political sociology at the University of Aston, on The Conservation. .
“But it is still likely to be effective,” argue the two academics. Activists acknowledge that traditional protest methods such as “strikes, sit-ins, occupations and blockades have proven to be more likely to achieve some success than less disruptive protests such as marches, demonstrations or demonstrations. petitions ”.
So even if they may not be “popular”, the couple concludes, the group is ready to “take the blow” to “make house insulation in the news and high on the agenda. of the government”.