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Monday, December 06, 2021

Explained: What is Insulate Britain and why is it blocking roads in UK?

The group’s first demand is that the UK government makes a promise to completely fund and take responsibility for insulating all social housing in Britain by 2025.

Written by Sanskriti Falor , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
October 29, 2021 11:36:41 am
Insulate Britain, Insulate Britain protests, Britain protests, Britain roads blocked, Indian ExpressProtesters from the Insulate Britain campaign block a road near Canary Wharf in east London, Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)

Insulate Britain, an environmental campaign group demanding insulation of all social housing in Britain to cut carbon emissions, blocked two busy roads in London on Wednesday. Fifty-five members of the group were arrested for blocking M25 and A40 in London.

According to Insulate Britain’s website, the group is made up of “ordinary British citizens” who are only demanding that the government insulate Britain.

“The UK government must immediately promise to fully fund and take responsibility for the insulation of all social housing in Britain. We demand a national home insulation strategy that gives British people the justice they deserve: a future for our loved ones, lower energy bills and safer living conditions. The Climate Crisis is a threat to all: we demand the government to act now,” says the group’s website.

The group has been blocking roads since September 13 this year. On October 14, the group, while deciding to pause roadblocks for 10 days, had written a letter to UK Prime Minister Borris Johnson, asking him to “get on with the job” of insulating homes.

Calling the situation a dire reality, the group in the letter to the PM, said that they wouldn’t have taken such steps under normal circumstances. The group further added that the world was facing “ economic chaos and the breakdown of law and order in a matter of years”.

What are the major demands of Insulate Britain?

The group’s first demand is that the UK government makes a promise to completely fund and take responsibility for insulating all social housing in Britain by 2025. Secondly, the group asks the UK government to promise to draw, within four months, a legally binding plan to fund and take responsibility for “a full low-energy and low-carbon whole-house retrofit, with no externalised costs, of all homes in Britain by 2030 as part of a just transition to full decarbonisation of all parts of society and the economy”.

How will insulating homes help Britain in reducing carbon emissions?

According to a research published by the Institute for Government, domestic heating accounts for around 14% of UK emissions, and decarbonising the way homes are heated – meaning more efficient homes and the electrification of most heating systems – will cost an estimated £200 billion over the next 30 years.”

Insulating homes can resist heat flow and resist heating costs. As per a paper by The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, “One of the easiest and most effective energy efficient technologies available today is insulation. Overall benefits from insulation are numerous, including thermal performance, personal comfort, sound control, condensation control, fire protection and personnel protection. The thermal insulating properties of insulation materials provide important energy and environmental benefits.”

Insulate Britain, Insulate Britain protests, Britain protests, Britain roads blocked, Indian Express Environmental protesters pressuring the British government to insulate all homes within a decade have resumed a road-blocking campaign in London ahead of the United Nations’ annual climate conference. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)

What have been UK’s promises that Insulate Britain wants Borris Johnson to keep?

The UK signed the Paris Agreement, which was a treaty adopted by 196 countries in COP 21 in 2015. The goal was to reduce global warming below 1.5 degrees celsius and to achieve this the countries promised to reach global peaking of Greenhouse gas emissions to create a climate-neutral world by mid-century.

In April this year, the UK government promised to reduce carbon emissions by 78 per cent by 2035, as part of the country’s sixth carbon budget. UK’s Climate Change Committee, formed under Climate Change Act 2008 and advises the UK on climate change policies, directed the government to take the step.

The UK government has to set Carbon budgets every year under the Climate Change Act 2008, and while they are legally binding they are supposed to lay a path towards a net-zero emission target by 2050.

The group states that the UK has 29 million homes, which are old and not energy-efficient and hence every year a huge amount of energy is wasted in heating and cooling these homes.

“The UK needs a nation-wide programme to upgrade almost every house. The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) 2018 report, Scaling Up Retro fit 2050, advises that nearly every home in the UK needs to be upgraded with energy efficiency measures. That is 1.5 homes per minute to the year 2050. Currently, the UK Government does not have a robust long-term national strategy with a funding mechanism in place to retrofit our homes,” says Insulate Britain.

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