Are you, like me and most Brits, trying to do your bit to save the planet, but totally hacked off by the nihilistic tactics of Insulate Britain? Can I suggest a way to stop the lunatics from gluing themselves to the M25: next time they pounce, turn the heating up for an hour and throw open all the windows.
Yes, it’s extreme and we’ll all suffer, especially given soaring gas prices. But a few extra quid a month on our heating bills and temporarily speeding up climate change might get these self-righteous middle-class twits out of our lives.
The motley crew of dotty retired vicars and bearded sociology professors are actually slowing down home insulation – which otherwise could be worth billions to the UK housing industry.
So, every time this rabble sits down in front of you, don’t plead with them about getting to your mum in hospital or drag them to the hard shoulder, and even avoid the temptation of giving them a good kicking. It just makes them feel even more smug. Rather, fight carbon with carbon.
Once you eventually return home, turn up the combi-boiler and fling open the double glazed windows. Even better, climb up to the loft and strip off the insulation. And post it all on Facebook, #UnInsulateBritain. To really make the message stick, add a photo of a baby polar bear padding across a melting ice flow with the injunction “get off our roads now or he gets an early bath”.
IB’s histrionics are turning the population and politicians off its laudable aims
Alright, I’m going a bit OTT. Of course, it’s vitally important to improve our thermally sieve-like housing stock. But IB’s histrionics are turning the population and politicians off its laudable aims.
Three weeks into the protests, 72% of the public now oppose its actions, up 13 points since the start of the campaign, according to a YouGov poll. Even Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer and the original eco-warrior, Prince Charles, have expressed their frustration.
The prime minister would welcome nothing more than donning a hard hat in front of the cameras ahead of next month’s COP26 summit and announcing a successor to previous lukewarm programmes. Boris would love to insulate Britain, but he can’t be seen to appease this rabble; first, Priti Patel has to jail a few of the nutters. That, sadly, might take months.
Everything but insulation
This may explain why this week’s various government announcements included £5k grants for heat pumps, billions of investment into wind turbines, but not a specific mention of insulation? (There is a tad more hidden away for existing programmes, but the PM dare not utter it for fear of IB gloating and copycat actions.)
A pity, since it’s just about the quickest policy to mobilise and would fit in perfectly with Boris’s ‘levelling-up’ mantra. Varying estimates of 13 to 25 million of the UK’s 28 million homes need to be improved. Let’s split the difference and assume 20 million. Almost three quarters of cavity-walled homes have been injected with foam or bead insulation, a quicker and cheaper job than the 90% of solid-walled dwellings still needing the more extensive task of fixing panels inside and out – and usually involving other improvements.
My back-of-envelope calculation is that the average of all remaining work will require an effective four employees taking two weeks per home, ie 24 a year. On this basis, we’re going to need some 115,000 workers to get the job done by the government’s target date. Not out of the question until you factor in the 43,000 vacancies currently in the construction industry and the difficulty in picking up a bag of nails.
Nevertheless, IB want it done by 2030. Presumably, there are no mathematicians among their ranks. For the task to be achieved in nine years not 29 would require 370,000 recruits. Impossible. But they and their fellow travellers in Extinction Rebellion could make a start by joining their ranks. It might be the first time most have ever done proper work.
They would do well to start on their own homes, many of which are subpar thermally, according to various media reports. Those Islington townhouses are fiendishly draughty.
Alastair Stewart is an equities analyst and consultant