Over 30 activists occupy parliament to tell new prime minister political chaos costs lives

Almost a quarter of the UK face fuel poverty, while fossil fuel companies rake in record profits and politicians fail to govern. Activists blocked the Houses of Parliament to tell Rishi Sunak: 'Chaos costs lives'.


It’s no secret that UK energy bills are sky-high. Thanks to spiralling gas prices and the oldest, coldest housing in Europe, millions of people are being pushed into fuel poverty. People across the country have waited for government after government to provide enough help to lower their energy bills – but mostly what we’ve had is political chaos.

Today, Greenpeace took action to show our brand new prime minister-in-waiting, Rishi Sunak, that he can’t ignore the almost seven million households facing fuel poverty. Activists occupied the lobby of parliament. They brought in energy bills collected from across the UK and read out concerns from people struggling with their bills. Their banner stated: ‘Chaos costs lives’ to highlight this very real danger a month before the release of data on excess winter deaths.

Activists holding 'chaos costs lives' signs while walking down steps by an ornate stained glass window in Parliament
Activist holds an energy bill from Christine in St Just saying that their bill is going up by £320 a month.

At a glance

The government hasn’t provided enough support for rising energy bills or acted swift enough on the climate emergency. We’re calling for soon-to-be prime minister, Rishi Sunak, to lower our bills for good with:

- Investment in insulation, to stop heat leaking out through our walls and windows

- Renewables, which are way cheaper than fossil fuels.

They should pay for it with a proper windfall tax on the extra profits oil and gas companies are making from the crisis.

We need a government who can confront crises, not create them

Rising energy bills and cold homes will cost lives. The UK already has the sixth highest rate of excess winter deaths in Europe. Higher bills also disproportionately impact disabled and older people, people of colour and those from impoverished communities. For instance, many medical and mobility devices require electricity. Meaning, on average, disabled people have much higher energy bills just for using equipment they need in their day-to-day lives. Political leaders have failed to put people first and provide  sufficient support for the energy crisis.

It’s political choices that have caused the levels of inequality and fuel poverty we’re facing. If this government properly taxed record fossil fuel profits, it could help fund extra support for those in need, and help pay for a nationwide programme to insulate homes. Instead, the last six weeks have seen u-turns on the Conservative manifesto pledge on fracking and new commitments to North Sea oil and gas, which will wreck our climate and won’t lower our bills.

The government has had all year to take adequate action to insulate homes and lower bills. Instead we’re going to have our third Prime Minister this year, while almost a quarter of the country is in fuel poverty. But thanks to the government dragging their heels, bills will be sky high and the climate crisis is going unchecked.

Group of activists hold a banner reading 'Chaos costs lives' in front of an elaborate stained glass window in the Palace of Westminster

Dozens of climate and fuel poverty activists occupy a hall at the heart of parliament to tell the government: Chaos costs lives. © Suzanne Plunkett / Greenpeace

The solutions to these crises are simple

The threats of soaring bills, the climate crisis and our dependence on oil and gas have the same set of answers. Energy companies stand to make a possible £170bn in excess profits over the next 2 years. This is obscene when a quarter of the country is in fuel poverty.

People need permanently lower bills. We need also need to reduce our emissions. The government can do this by:

  • Committing to investing £6billion immediately to kickstart a street-by-street insulation programme to keep bills low for good.
  • Shifting to renewable energy, like wind and solar, which are cheaper and quicker to build than oil and gas.
  • Properly taxing oil and gas companies excess profits so they pay their fair share, given how much money they’ve made off these crises.

It’s time we have a government that brings down bills for good and plays its part in tackling the climate crisis.

Delay has cost lives. Chaos costs lives. And it will cost more lives this winter and every winter. No one benefits except the oil and gas profiteers. If the government were on the people’s side, the UK really could get on track to quitting oil, gas, and sky-high energy bills, forever.

Take action to support the millions facing fuel poverty

Join thousands of people demanding the new Prime Minister confront this crisis now. Tweet Rishi Sunak to help amplify this urgent message.

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