The UK government has unveiled a scheme aimed at improving the energy efficiency of heating people’s homes. The scheme aims to eliminate the installation of new domestic gas boilers by 2035.
The idea is to begin replacing boilers with heat pumps, a technology that uses the warmth from the ground and the air to produce heat. Despite it’s high hopes, the scheme has been allocated a mere £450m of the government’s £3.9 billion emissions reduction budget. This will provide funds for a maximum of 90,000 heat pumps. Given that 1.67 million boilers were installed in 2019 alone, it’s hard to imagine how 90,000 of these pumps are going to make a difference.
The scheme may well be nothing more than a government PR scheme, hoping to address the seemingly endless protesting of direct action groups like Extinction Rebellion and particularly Insulate Britain, a group that focuses on domestic heating emissions.
Even if this is just a Tory vote-farming initiative, at the very least it probably won’t cause any harm, right?
The unfortunate truth is that domestic emissions reforms are a non-starter. As of 2019, the top 100 companies account for 71% of global emissions. Not all companies; just the top 100. The millions of other companies make up the vast majority of the remaining 29%.
Even if this boiler replacement scheme were properly funded and managed to get a heat pump into every house in the country, the planet would be in no less danger than it currently is. Domestic emissions have never been what endangers the environment and the future of humanity. This scheme could be a complete success, and it would still be a total failure. Unfortunately, this also applies to liberal, individualist environmentalism of groups like Insulate Britain. The futility of their cause only serves to worsen their needless targeting of working class people as the chief victims of their disruption tactics.
Despite all that, the primary issue with liberal environmentalism is not it’s futility, or it’s downwards-punching methods. By far the worst impact of this new wave of green activism is the pacifying effect it will have when it’s goals appear to be met.
Insulate Britain may well see this heat pump initiative was a victory. Certainly, many of it’s activists will. And therein lies the real, sinister threat of this movement; it will pacify environmentalism.
Environmentalism should be a fight for the survival of our race, and the planet it lives on. Instead the overwhelmingly middle class activists of Insulate Britain will have the emotional satisfaction of a job well done. They got the headlines and they banished the boilers. They and their supporters will engage in a few weeks of triumphant social media posturing, and then they’ll never be heard from again. Worse still is the potential impact on the general public, who will see this busywork and assume that meaningful change is happening. Meanwhile the damage to our planet is reduced by a laughably negligible percentage, so much so that it may as well not have happened at all.
The real threat to the sustainability of life on this planet is capitalism, not a few plastic bottles in the wrong bin and not people’s boilers. Certainly, plastic-free oceans and green heating solutions are not a bad thing in and of themselves. But if people are lulled into a false sense of environmental security, the planet burns anyway, what was the point?
Revolutionary change is needed to save the planet. Only the end of capitalism and the victory of the working class over the monopolies will halt and eventually reverse the damage being done. Groups like XR and Insulate Britain mean well, but they have neither the intention nor the capacity to do what needs to be done.