Insulate Britain protesters blocked the M25 for the seventh time yesterday. In spite of a government injunction.
Activists stopped traffic by gluing their hands to the motorway.
Police arrested 11 Insulate Britain protesters at the Swanley Interchange roundabout at Junction 3 of the M25 yesterday. This brings the total number of arrests to 438. The government was granted a High Court injunction last week banning the blockage of the M25. This means that the protesters potentially face two years in prison and an unlimited fine.
Stick it to the Man
A faction of Extinction Rebellion, Insulate Britain is demanding that all UK homes are insulated by 2030 to reduce carbon emissions. In spite of the injunction, Surrey’s police commissioner Lisa Townsend admitted the environmental protesters were evading legal action. She said, “It has been very difficult for the police because if they charge the protesters with a relatively minor offence, it is likely to be discontinued. If they try to elevate the charge to a more serious one, they are finding it is not reaching the necessary threshold.”
Posting on social media, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps wanted to increase punishments for those who “repeatedly put lives in danger”. Describing the protestors as “reckless”, he said. “We are serving papers and those who continue these idiotic, dangerous, and counter-productive demonstrations will be caught and face unlimited fines or prison.”
But Insulate Britain responded defiantly. “We are going nowhere. You can raid our savings. You can confiscate our property. You can deny us our liberty and put us behind bars,” it tweeted on social media in response. “But shooting the messenger can never destroy the message: that this country is going to hell unless you take emergency action to stop putting carbon into the air. Boris get on with the job.”
In addition to the M25, protests have also taken place on other major routes such as the A1 and A20. They have been timed just weeks ahead of COP26, the global climate conference to take place in Glasgow in November. The aim is to highlight the need for real action to achieve climate change targets.
The UK has some 29 million homes which are considered to be the oldest and least energy-efficient housing stock in Europe. A Welsh government-commissioned report in 2018 confirmed that 21% of the nation’s carbon emissions came from housing. In order to meet Paris Agreement targets to stay below 1.5C, a 78% reduction in emissions from heating and powering homes is required in the next 15 years. According to an Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) 2018 report, this means that every home in the UK urgently needs to be upgraded with energy efficiency measures. Whilst the Welsh Government recently announced plans to build 20,000 new low carbon social housing homes, currently, the UK Government does not have a long-term national strategy in place to retrofit homes.
However, there has been growing concern that the topic of emissions from buildings and cities has been neglected. As a result, COP26 will address carbon emissions from buildings for the first time. The day dedicated to the built environment will involve “advancing action in the places we live, from communities, through to cities and regions”. The day is being organised by a coalition of international groups. These include the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Speaking to Dezeen, Roland Hunziker, director of the WBSCD, said, ”Quite honestly, today, nobody really pays a lot of attention to the full impact of emissions from buildings. And so that needs to change.”