Biofuelwatch, The Axe Drax Group and The Stop Burning Trees Coalition Press Release
Climate justice campaigners denounce Drax-sponsored events at Labour Party Conference
27th September 2022 – Climate justice campaigners and Labour Party members have been protesting today outside a Drax-sponsored event at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool to demand that Labour drops its ties to Drax, the world’s biggest tree burner. 
Campaigners from the Axe Drax Group were removed from the event for asking questions about a new Greenpeace Unearthed investigation revealing accusations of Drax fuelling environmental racism at its Southern US pellet mills. 
Drax – which emitted over 13 million tonnes of CO2 from burning wood in 2021 , was sponsoring and speaking at an event called “Reaching net zero: How can the UK boost energy security and invest in green jobs?’ at the Labour conference in Liverpool today.  The panel discussion, organised by the New Statesman magazine, also featured Alan Whitehead, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Green New Deal and Energy.
Labour Party members and campaigners from the Axe Drax Group and The Stop Burning Trees Coalition  have been raising serious concerns about Drax, the UK’s single largest carbon emitter , sponsoring and speaking at a Labour Conference event on climate commitments and green jobs as well as a Yorkshire and Humber regional reception on Sunday evening. They argue that by allowing Drax to sponsor and attend events at its conference, Labour is engaging with the ‘green spin’ that Drax employs to present burning wood as ‘carbon neutral’, and they are calling on Labour to end its relationship with dirty energy.
Sally Clark from environmental organisation, Biofuelwatch , said: “It is deeply disturbing that the Labour Party is accepting sponsorship from a company which is devastating forests, wildlife and communities around the world, whilst also making the climate crisis worse. If Labour is serious about its pledge this weekend to cut emissions and support genuinely renewable wind and solar power, the Party urgently needs to end its links to Drax’s planet-wrecking tree burning.”
Despite being the UKs single largest carbon emitter, Drax’s Annual Report shows that the company received £2.68 million per day in UK renewable subsidies in 2021 to burn wood, funded through a surcharge on UK energy bills. 
Ellen Robottom, Labour Party member from Leeds, said: ‘”As a member of the Labour Party I am horrified that the Party is accepting sponsorship from Drax, one of the worst carbon emitters in Europe and a key part of a disastrous government energy policy which is set to lock in climate destroying dirty fuels for decades to come. The biomass-power industry is responsible for widespread destruction of irreplaceable forest ecosystems and catastrophic reduction of carbon sequestration capacity. The Labour Party should be exposing this scam, not colluding with it.”
A new investigation from Greenpeace Unearthed revealed yesterday that Drax has paid millions of dollars to US regulators over claims it breached air pollution limits at wood pellet mills in the Southern USA which supply wood to burn at its power station in Yorkshire. Drax is also facing prosecution from the Health and Safety Executive for risking the health of its workers through exposure to harmful wood dust  and Drax workers have been taking part in wildcat strikes this summer. 
Peter York, Labour Party member from York and member of the Stop Burning Trees Coalition, said: “It is shocking to see the Labour party, who are supposed to be on the side of workers, accept sponsorship from a company like Drax. This is a company who have had walkouts from workers over conditions and pay this summer, and who are so bad for the environment that even Kwasi Kwarteng, BEIS Secretary at the time, said their burning of wood wasn’t sustainable. Drax are demonstrably bad for workers, and bad for the environment so Labour taking sponsorship from them is an absolute scandal.”
Last month, Kwasi Kwarteng, the new Chancellor and former Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, was recorded questioning the sustainability of burning wood and saying to MPs that Drax’s biomass burning does not make sense. 
Campaigners argue that Drax’s claims to be carbon neutral are based upon carbon counting loopholes, and they are calling on MPs to redirect Drax’s subsidies to create genuinely green jobs in areas such as renewable wind and solar power. 
NOTES TO EDITORS
Photos from the demonstration are available here: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/2/folders/16_X_PuQu-k8G6qc-UyFWA_Fl9qHeBPXX
 Drax burns more wood than any other company in the world: https://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/axedrax-campaign/
 Video footage from Economy, Land and Climate Insight (https://elc-insight.org/) of the campaigners being removed for asking questions about the new Greenpeace Unearthed investigation revealing Drax’s recent payments to settle claims of air pollution violations at its US pellet mills: https://twitter.com/elcinsight/status/1574687153917169669 https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2022/09/26/drax-accused-environmental-racism-further-pollution-claims-against-wood-pellet-mills-us/
 Drax’s 2021 Annual Report revealed that the company emitted 13.42 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere last year, making Drax power station the UK’s single biggest source of carbon emissions: https://www.drax.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Drax_AR2021_2022-03-07.final_.pdf
 The Axe Drax Group (https://axedrax.uk/) and the Stop Burning Trees Coalition (https://stopburningtrees.org/) include members from climate justice and social justice groups. Both the Axe Drax Group and the Stop Burning Trees Coalition are taking action against the destructive biomass industry and demanding that companies like Drax stop burning trees.
 Biofuelwatch provides information and undertakes advocacy and campaigning in relation to the climate, environmental, human rights and public health impacts of large-scale industrial bioenergy. https://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/
 Drax is accused of two counts of breaching health and safety legislation between 2006 and 2017 and the trial is due to start in June 2023: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-60333049