Climate justice campaigners denounce Drax’s tree burning at AGM demonstrations

27th April 2022 – Forest and climate justice campaigners across the UK are taking part in online and in-person demonstrations today to call on the world’s biggest wood-burning company, Drax, to “Stop Burning Trees”. The protests are to coincide with the Drax Group’s Annual General Meeting which is being held in London today. [1] 

Campaigners from groups including Axe Drax, Fossil Free London, Extinction Rebellion and Biofuelwatch have gathered outside the AGM in Aldersgate Street in London with banners, music and speakers to call out the company’s bill payer-funded complicity in climate change [2], biodiversity loss [3], environmental injustice [4] and damage to forests around the world.[5] 

In a separate action this morning, a member from Axe Drax covered the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in London with bright orange paint, hanging banners that read “Stop Burning Trees” and “Rise Up for Reparations” to highlight the Department’s role in awarding almost almost £1 billion in renewable subsidies to fund Drax’s wood burning in 2021. [6] 

Despite being the UKs single largest carbon emitter [7], Drax’s Annual Report shows that the company received £982.5 million in bill-payer funded renewable subsidies in 2021 to burn wood.This is equivalent to £2.68 million per day. [8] 

Katy Brown from Biofuelwatch said:“It’s about time the ridiculous situation of bill payers subsidising tree burning in the name of ‘renewable energy’ was brought to an end. This money should instead be re-directed towards genuinely renewable sources such as wind and solar. That many customers are now struggling to pay their bills while we are in both a climate and energy crisis makes it particularly galling that the surcharge on our energy bills is supporting Drax, the UK’s single biggest carbon emitter. Burning coal, oil, gas or trees will only make the climate crisis worse, and has no place in a sustainable future.” 

Members of the Stop Burning Trees Coalition [9] are also holding demonstrations in Leeds [10], York [11], Liverpool [12] and Hull [13] today to highlight how Drax’s wood burning is destroying forests, harming biodiversity, polluting communities and making the climate crisis worse. The campaigners are calling for this money to be transferred from biomass burning to genuine renewables such as wind and solar power to support the climate and a Just Transition for communities.  

Merry Dickinson from Axe Drax said: “As a young person I am terrified about my future. The climate crisis is getting worse every day, people are already suffering, and Drax is fuelling this. Biomass is not the solution. We urgently need to transition away from fossil fuels, but it cannot be towards biomass. Biomass emits more carbon per unit of energy than coal, it pollutes communities, harms biodiversity and destroys our vital forests and ecosystems. Drax is profiting off this destruction and actively fueling the climate crisis. We need to be protecting our forests, not burning them!”

Climate activists have also been sharing photos and messages on social media to tell Drax to ‘Stop Burning Trees’ and to call on the UK government to stop subsidising biomass as a renewable energy. [14] 

Rita Frost, Campaigns Director for the US environmental organisation, Dogwood Alliance, said: “Drax’s insatiable appetite for biomass is all in the name of reducing carbon emissions to shore up government subsidies. The reality of biomass-burning is that it’s accelerating climate change while also driving destructive industrial logging in the Southern U.S.– one of the world’s most biologically diverse forests. Southern communities want to send a strong message: our forests aren’t fuel!”

Drax’s subsidies for biomass are due to end in 2027 and the company is now lobbying for more financial support for its experiments with Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) [15], a costly and unproven technology widely condemned by scientists [16] and NGOs [17] that could lead to more forests being felled and more CO2 being released into the atmosphere as a result.

Claire James, Campaigns Coordinator for the Campaign against Climate Change said: “It’s really worrying that policymakers may be looking to BECCS [Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage] as the solution to climate change. All the evidence suggests that cutting down trees, shipping them here and burning them to attempt to store the carbon underground is going to do more harm than good. Meanwhile the obvious solutions, like insulating our homes to cut energy bills, or building cheap onshore wind and solar energy, are being sidelined.”

Drax is currently facing prosecution from the Health and Safety Executive over allegations that wood dust from its biomass pellets has posed a risk to employees’ health, safety and welfare at the company’s power station in Selby, North Yorkshire. Drax is pleading not guilty to two counts of breaching health and safety legislation and the trial is due to start in June 2023. [18] 


Notes for Editors

[1] ‘Stop Burning Trees’ – UK Day of Action: The London demonstration took place outside the Drax AGM at 200 Aldersgate St, EC1A 4HD:

[2] Under UK law, biomass is eligible for renewable energy subsidies on the assumption that carbon dioxide released by burning wood will be reabsorbed by future tree growth. However, this CO2 will not be absorbed for decades if ever, creating a “carbon debt” at exactly the time when we need to be reducing the CO2 in the atmosphere. In February 2021, over 500 scientists wrote to President Biden and other world leaders, urging them to end subsidies for forest biomass burning because of the climate impact:  

[3] The impacts of the biomass industry on biodiversity: 






[9] The Stop Burning Trees Coalition includes group members from Friends Of The Earth, Biofuelwatch, Axe Drax, the Green Party, the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Justice Coalition and Extinction Rebellion. The Coalition is taking action against the destructive biomass industry and demanding that companies like Drax Stop Burning Trees: 

[10] Leeds climate jobs fair: 

[11] York demonstration: 

[12] Liverpool ‘Stop Burning Trees’ demonstration: 

[13] Hull demonstration: / 

[14] ‘Stop Burning Trees’ social media action: