Welcome to our final newsletter of 2021 full of updates about campaigns that we – and you – have been supporting, and policy developments. Important reading for anyone who wants to see meaningful responses to climate change and who is concerned about protecting forests and the people and wildlife depending on them.
- 2021 Roundup!
- Fundraising Appeal: Planning Democracy
- COP26 Roundup
- Drax court case & Axe Drax demo
- Webinar: Uprooting the Drivers of Deforestation & Climate Change
- Glasgow Calls Out Polluters net zero report, featuring Drax
- New report on California Climate Politics
- CCNF petition
- Burned screening
As we tried to move forward into some form of normality from COVID it has been a busy year. With your support Biofuelwatch and our partners have continued to speak out for forests and demand climate justice. We wanted to share some successes and highlights with you and say thank you for taking part in our online and in-person actions, sharing on social media, and being part of our collective voice.
We have shared and contributed to a few important reports this year. We were co-authors of a report called: “Unsustainable and Ineffective: Why EU Forest Biomass Standards Won’t Stop Destruction”. The publication revealed that the European Union (EU) Renewable Energy Directive (RED) sustainability criteria fails to ensure that biomass does not harm forests and fails to ensure that bioenergy helps tackle the climate crisis. The report included several case studies from British Columbia, Estonia, France, Portugal and Finland. In North America we were proud to be contributors to the third Edition of ‘Hoodwinked in the Hothouse: Resist False Solutions to Climate Change’ which highlights the need for real solutions that go beyond the greening of business-as-usual. We were also delighted to be among contributors to a new report led by Corporate Accountability, Global Forest Coalition and Friends of the Earth International called ‘The Big Con: How Big Polluters are advancing a “net zero” climate agenda to delay, deceive, and deny’. The report detailed major strategies used by industries to lock in a ‘net zero’ climate agenda and the shortcomings of corporate ‘net zero’ plans across sectors.
As part of the Cut Carbon Not Forests Coalition we were pleased to see both Channel 4 and CNN run investigations on biomass. Channel 4 focused on the dangers of supporting biomass as the UK switches away from fossil fuel. CNN looked at marginalized communities in America’s South paying the price for Europes ‘green energy’.
We have had some great online and in person actions which many of you took part in. In April, forest and climate activists joined us around the world to take part in an online action which coincided with Drax’s Annual General Meeting. Using the hashtag #ForestsAreNotFuel, many posted pictures online and campaigners in Northampton and Liverpool organised a great demonstration outside Drax’s AGM venue and Liverpool Port where millions of tonnes of wood pellets from clear-felled US forests arrive in the UK before they are taken to be burned in Drax. Many of the pictures posted online can be seen here. In May both Biofuelwatch and Cut Carbon Not Forest Coation (CCNF) took part in ‘International Dawn Chorus Day’. We were delighted to take part to highlight the threat which birds around the world are facing from the wood pellet and biomass industries.
In September, we were delighted to join with campaigners from Estonia, Canada and the Southern USA and with climate change charity, Hope for the Future, for a ‘Forests, Climate and the Great Big Green Week’ webinar to discus how we can call on our MPs to protect forests from biomass burning. We also co-hosted a special training workshop with Cut Carbon Not Forests and Hope for the Future on Building Effective Relationships with MPs you can watch the recording of this here.
More recently in October, we joined Extinction Rebellion, Scientists for XR, Doctors for XR, Stop Adani, Marketforces & other friends for an online action and in person demonstration to take over the publicity of the world’s biggest tree burner, Drax, as the company attended the Global Investment Summit in London. The Global Investment Summit was designed to showcase “green technology” ahead of COP26. Drax was using the Summit to promote its climate-wrecking tree burning and its unproven bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technology, despite admitting to climate campaigners in March this year that its carbon capture and storage claims are not based on any real-world evidence. Thank you to everyone who took part, you can see all the pictures from the online actions and in person demonstration here
This year we have been Inviting everyone to vote in the Polluter awards. Thank you to everyone who voted in the Scottish and UK polluter awards which were organised by Glasgow Calls Out Polluters in collaboration with Culture Unstained, UK Youth Climate Coalition, 350.org, Biofuelwatch, Impact, and Friends of the Earth Scotland. Winners were announced in September and Drax won 3 out of the 4 categories it was nominated for in the UK polluter awards. You can find out more and watch the award videos here.
Lastly, thank you to everyone who joined our webinars and Burned screenings this year, including our recent webinar with Corporate Europe Observatory and the Center for International Environmental Law on ‘Carbon Capture and Storage: green solution or climate disaster?’. If you missed any or want to see them again please visit our webinar page here or go to our youtube channel. We are sure you will agree it has been a busy year with lots more that could be included in these highlights!! Thank you again to everyone for supporting us this year and helping us amplify our message collectively through our campaigns and actions. We’re really excited to continue working with you next year to protect forests, wildlife, people and the climate from the harmful impacts of the wood pellet and biomass industries.
Fundraising Appeal: Planning Democracy
This year, as part of our fundraising appeal, we are asking if you can support Planning Democracy. Planning Democracy is a community-led organisation campaigning to strengthen the voice and influence of the public in the planning and development of Scotland’s land. They aim to deepen democratic control and promote environmental justice. The organisation is entirely run on donations, grants and volunteer hours. Any amount of financial support will make a huge difference to their campaigns and projects, you can read some testimonies from communities they have supported here. Thank you in advance for your contribution.
Campaigners from the UK, Europe and Canada joined a banner demonstration outside a trade association event to denounce Drax’s claims of “sustainable wood burning” as greenwashing. Meanwhile, activists around the world shared social media with slogans including #AxeDrax, #BigBadBiomass and #ForestsAreNotFuel to denounce Drax’s sponsorship of the COP26 Sustainable Innovation Forum. On the same day, global NGOs warned COP26 that burning forest wood for energy sabotages climate action. Thank you to everyone who joined us, online and in person, to raise our voices in telling Drax they can not get away with their greenwashing at the COP.
Drax court case
Thank you to everyone who took part in the Axe Drax group’s demonstration online and at Leeds Magistrates court in support of the health and safety charges against Drax Power Station. The aim was to stand in solidarity with workers to highlight the risk Drax poses to their health and to the planet from its climate wrecking tree burning. Drax is accused of exposing employees to wood dust at its Selby plant by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), thereby risking their health, safety and welfare at work. The court case comes in the wake of Drax’s $2.5 million fine for breaching air pollution laws in its wood pellet mill in the USA. The case has now been transferred to Leeds Crown Court and the next hearing is due to be held on the 31st of December. If you’d like to find out more about the amazing Axe Drax group, please see here and you can email the group at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Webinar: Uprooting the Drivers of Deforestation & Climate Change
Biofuelwatch, Colectivo VientoSur, FASE and Global Forest Coalition hosted an online panel discussion with activists from frontline communities that discussed the challenges some of the false solutions being proposed and promoted at COP26. The discussion aimed to address why these false solutions make the climate crisis worse, and highlight the injustices that frontline communities are facing as a consequence of extractive industries, patriarchy, colonialism and green capitalism. If you missed this fantastic webinar we have added the recording below:
Glasgow Calls Out Polluters net zero report, featuring Drax
As part of the Glasgow Call out Polluters coalition’s work this year a new piece of research was recently published called ‘Race to Zero (credibility) How flagship Net Zero initiatives at COP26 are sciencewash’. The project was initiated with a simple idea to investigate companies signed up to the Net Zero initiatives associated with COP26 and promoted by the UNFCCC – the Race to Zero Programme and the Science Based Targets Initiative. The report wanted to take a simple headcount of all those involved in activities that were accelerating climate breakdown. What they found was an astonishing abundance of companies involved in planet-wrecking activity.
The report further focused on researching and profiling some of the more egregious polluters, including Drax, whose climate plans (and current behaviour) expose the farce underpinning these ‘Net Zero’ initiatives. Examples range from the gravely worrying to the comically absurd. The report exposes how the so-called ‘stamps of credibility’ provided by these programmes only serve to rubber stamp more climate breakdown. We were very pleased to contribute a discussion of Drax’s ‘net zero’ greenwashing.
New report on California Climate Politics
We are delighted to share a new report which our colleagues in the US have been working on. The report exposes the intricate workings of California’s policy making apparatus. Describing how an elite group of private and public sector specialists have coordinated behind the scenes to promote unproven and dangerous carbon removal technologies in a multifaceted attempt to set the state climate policy table — and to establish a model that could be exported to other state and national jurisdictions.
There’s still time to sign the petition from the Cut Carbon Not Forest coalition, of which Biofuelwatch is part, telling the government to stop burning trees for energy. It has over 30,000 signatures, and we’d love to see that number get even higher. The New Yorker recently did a report on the Biomass industry which you can read here.
BURNED tells the little-known story of the accelerating destruction of our forests for fuel, and probes the policy loopholes, huge subsidies, and green-washing of the biomass industry. In the Southeastern US, trees are being cut down and shipped to Europe to be burned primarily in Drax Power Station in Yorkshire, the largest biomass power station in the world. Far from the renewable energy source the industry claims it to be, biomass can be as much if not more polluting than coal, and the clear-felling of trees is having devastating effects on nearby communities and surrounding biodiversity.
If you or a group you are part of are interested in organising a screening of this award winning documentary please email us at: email@example.com. We may be able to organise guest speakers from wood pellet-sourcing regions shown in the film.
Thank you to everyone for your support. We look forward to being in touch again in the new year.