Activists are occupying buildings such as the British Museum and Scottish Power’s headquarters on Saturday to protest rising energy bills and “skyrocketing” fuel poverty, organizers said.
Members of grassroots movements Don’t Pay UK and Fuel Poverty Action said activists settled in the foyer of the Glasgow-based energy company around 9am with blankets, sleeping bags and hot water bottles.
Another “warm-up” demonstration was planned around midday for the British Museum in central London, where activists were also set to protest the museum’s sponsorship links with oil giant BP, according to Don’t Pay UK.
A third group would also occupy the Westfield shopping center in Stratford, east London.
Warm-up protests include “occupying a site to operate an unauthorized heat bank and drawing attention to skyrocketing rates of fuel poverty,” the group said.
The group said the demonstrations were being held as part of the National Day of Action on Fuel Poverty, Don’t Pay UK, Fuel Poverty Action and other climate and community organisations.
In Hastings, activists will enter a Barclays branch as the bank invests in fossil fuels, which they say are exacerbating both energy prices and the climate crisis.
Other warm-up protests are taking place at a shopping center in Manchester, as well as in Liverpool, Brighton and Bristol.
Neil Smith, a spokesman for the Don’t Pay campaign, said: “No one should be freezing in the winter, but what we are seeing is a mass outage on these extortionate energy bills and thousands freezing in their homes.
“While the government stands by, we come together in our communities to fight back and keep each other warm.”
Don’t Pay has attracted attention in the past by encouraging people to cancel direct debits on their energy bills in response to the “mass blackout” already occurring among those who cannot afford to heat their homes.
The groups are calling on the government to address the energy and livelihood crisis without delay by introducing Energy for All, defined as “a universal, free band of energy to meet people’s needs.”
This would be paid for by “the end of all public money to subsidize fossil fuels, a more effective windfall tax for energy companies and higher tariffs on energy consumption in luxury homes”.
Stuart Bretherton, Fuel Poverty Action campaign coordinator, said: “Energy For All would achieve what our energy system and economy should ultimately be designed to be, by ensuring that everyone’s basic needs are met.
“Ordinary people can’t keep footing the bill for crises caused by the rich, it’s time for the big polluters and profiteers to pay their share.
“By doing so, we could also incentivize much-needed climate action on home insulation and a transition to renewable energy.”