Press Release: Climate justice campaigners urge new government department to ‘turn a new leaf’ and stop funding the UK’s single biggest carbon emitter, Drax

London, 19th October 2016 – Climate justice campaigners [1] staged a colourful protest outside the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) today, urging ministers to ‘turn a new leaf’ in energy policy and stop funding Drax power station, which is the UK’s single biggest emitter of CO2. Drax is burning up to 6 million tonnes of coal every year, more than any other UK power station. They also burn pellets made from at least 12 million tonnes of wood a year, which is more than all of the wood the UK produces annually. For that, Drax currently receives around £1.3 million in public subsidies every single day [2].

Protesters handed gigantic cheques to a “Draxosaurus’ and to walking cooling towers representing Drax power station. They also drew attention to a forthcoming national demonstration and celebration outside Drax power station in Yorkshire on Saturday, 22nd October [3]. They finished the protest by handing in a petition of over 145,000 signatures to BEIS, calling for an end to subsidies for Drax.

Drax sources coal from opencast coal mines in the UK, Russia, Colombia and the US [4]. They import virtually all of their wood pellets, most of them from the southern US where conservation NGOs have collated that wood from clearcut biodiverse wetland forests is used in a significant proportion of the pellets burned by Drax [5].

Duncan Law from Biofuelwatch, one of the organisers of the protest, states: “Right now, the Drax is cashing in on at least £470 million a year for burning biomass. Far from being low-carbon or sustainable, their biomass burning accelerates the destruction of highly biodiverse and carbon rich forests – and it enables the power station to continue burning millions of tonnes of coal, too. We are urging the new ministers to turn over a new leaf and to redirect those subsidies towards home energy efficiency and genuinely low carbon and renewable forms of energy”.

Luz Ángela Uriana Epiayú said: “I remember Cerrejón [a coal mine which supplies some of coal to Drax, owned by BHP, Anglo American and Glencore] came to La Guajira promising the world, but they never actually sat down and spoke to us. Now, at night, we barely sleep. The constant hum of the huge machines from the mine doesn’t let us. The air we breathe is polluted. The pollution also contaminates our water. This in turn generates health problems and illnesses, affecting our children. These are the consequences we face for having the Cerrejón mine for a neighbour.”

 

Notes:

[1] The protest was organised by Biofuelwatch (biofuelwatch.org.uk), London Mining Network (londonminingnetwork.org/) Coal Action Network (coalaction.org.uk), and Biomassive (facebook.com/Biomassive/) , a London-based campaign group affiliated to Biofuelwatch.

[2] See http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/axedrax-briefing-v2.pdf for full details about Drax power station, including a calculation of the subsidies the company receives.

[3] See http://coalaction.org.uk/2016/09/axedrax/ for details of the demonstration and celebration outside Drax power station on 22nd October, which is being organised by Biofuelwatch, Coal Action Network and several groups in Yorkshire.

[4] See Coal Action Networks “Ditch Coal” report for details of Drax’s coal sourcing and its impacts: coalaction.org.uk/ditchcoal/ .

[5] See evidence compiled by the US conservation organisations Dogwood Alliance (dogwoodalliance.org) and Natural Resources Defense Council (nrdc.org), including here: biofuelwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Enviva-Investigation.pdf .
subsidies petition luz angela

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