Climate activists block Champs Elysees to demand better insulation of buildings

Blockade of the Champs Elysees avenue by environmental activists of "Derniere Renovation" in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) - Environmental activists briefly blocked Paris's Champs Elysees avenue on Thursday in protest at what they called the French government's lack of action to counter climate change, notably inadequate levels of insulation in buildings.

Some 20 members of "Derniere Renovation" (Final Renovation) sat on the wide boulevard, snarling traffic in both directions for around 10 minutes before being pulled away by police.

In a statement, the group called on the government to launch a campaign for better building insulation, which it said could massively cut French carbon emissions.

The building industry was willing and able to implement such a plan and "all that is missing is the political will," it said.

Nearly five million of France's 29 million residences are classified at the lowest two ratings, F and G, for energy efficiency, and less than 7% at A or B, a 2020 energy ministry report showed.

Successive French administrations have announced insulation campaigns in the past decade, but critics say relatively little progress has been made, in part because thermal renovation of existing buildings is difficult and labour-intensive.

The government is making it harder for landlords to rent out badly insulated buildings.

Under legislation passed in 2021, homes using more than 450 kilowatt hours per square meter (kWh/m2) per year for heating - which covers about 90,000 homes - can no longer be rented out from next year.

(Reporting by Noemie Olive, writing by Geert De Clercq)