Nov 12, 2021

An activist from the Axe Drax coalition has just halted a wood pellet train going to Drax Power Station outside Selby. Dressed in bright orange hi vis and carrying a Extinction Rebellion flag the activist has climbed on top of the train to send a clear message to COP26: stop the fell. Banners emblazoned with the words ‘Forests Are Not Fuel’ and ‘Moratorium on Tree Felling’ line the tracks. The activists have created a visually striking and physically disruptive demonstration against the ecocidal use of biofuels.

Police have now arrived at the scene and the protestor remains in good spirits and committed to why they’ve felt the need to take this action.

This trainline only goes to Drax so no other trains have been impacted.

Coffee, currently on top of the train: We need to keep the trees in the ground, we need a U-turn on the decision to phase out deforestation by 2030, we need to slam on the breaks. Halt the felling. Bring a moratorium on tree felling for six months whilst a plan is made for a future world economy.

This follows a wave of anti-biofuel and Drax specific protests at COP26 where protestors have been standing up against the destructive greenwashing biofuel industry [15]. Drax Power Station, located in Yorkshire, burns 12 million tonnes of trees every year [2]. Despite being legally classified as ‘renewable’ by the UK government, Drax remains the largest carbon emitter in the UK [1,3], taking advantage of a carbon accounting loophole [4]. In 2019 Drax emitted almost 13 million tonnes of CO₂ from burning wood, and yet over the last year Drax received £832 million in ‘renewable subsidies’ [5], and are expecting to receive billions more.

This is a grave misuse of public money and just one example of the destructive biofuel industry.

The protestors are calling for:

  1. An international moratorium on all tree felling for 6 months whilst a plan is devised to adequately tackle deforestation and dismantle the biofuel industry
  2. Furlough for all impacted workers: COVID19 demonstrated that it is possible for governments to take drastic action when required; which the climate and ecological crisis urgently requires
  3. Stop the Lies: end what is possibly the most comprehensive and dangerous greenwashing campaign the UK has seen

The UKs environment minister, Zac Goldsmith, acknowledged concerns that large-scale burning of wood for energy in UK power stations harms forests and produces carbon emissions [14]. His admission came after the Daily Telegraph revealed that Britain will continue to burn the equivalent of 25 million trees a year [13], despite a pledge from the UK Government and other world leaders last week at COP26 to help end the destruction of forests [9].

Research demonstrates that the biofuel industry is more carbon intensive that coal [16] and yet is posed as an ecologically sustainable solution by policy makers. This is greenwashing, pure and simple. Coming off the back of COP26 where we have seen a truly astounding amount of greenwashing and representation of corporate interests [12], governments around the world seem to show little intention on stopping the greenwash. The COP26’s Global Forest Finance [6] pledge puts aside USD$12 billion for reforestation, yet the UK government plan to spend over $1 billion more than that on propping up Drax’s forest burning project [7].

Biomass production harms both people and planet. Aside from being highly carbon intensive, deforestation is linked to an increase in flooding, soil degradation, biodiversity and habitat loss, noise and air pollution for local communities and environmental racism [17].

It is time we demand an end to corporate and government greenwashing.

We are starting to see small steps towards an end to deforestation, with British Columbia recently banning logging in an ecologically sensitive area along the US border [8]. However, logging continues across Canada, with wood pellets being shipped from Canada to the UK for Drax to incinerate. This demonstrates one thing – where there is political will it is possible to stop deforestation. However that political will is currently severely lacking.

World leaders at COP26 initially pledged to end deforestation by 2030 [9], which firstly is far too late, and secondly, countries such as Brazil (the worlds second largest biofuel producer [10]) have already begun to backtrack on this agreement before the conference is even over [11]. Furthermore, the previous deal agreed in 2014 on deforestation has ‘failed to slow deforestation at all’ [9].

Drax is literally burning away some of our last hopes of ensuring we have a liveable planet, with 3 to 4 years to avert this crisis we can’t afford to be burning forests. I am terrified of a future in climate breakdown, and horrified at the effects of this crisis ripping through the global south. We’ve run out of time, and we must act as fast as we can.

  • Joe, 21

Given that the UK government has pledged to end deforestation by 2030 and pursue a restoration to forest loss and land degradation we believe it is our duty as active citizens to help them with this goal. It is our view that a good first step would be to stop burning trees for fuel. Forests are not fuel. This is why we believe we are left with little choice other than to take action to prevent further planetary destruction.


Here is a precise what3words address for where the activist is, made of 3 random words. Every 3 metre square in the world has its own unique what3words address.///flamenco.contacts.craziest https://w3w.co/flamenco.contacts.craziest

Photos and videos: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1obF4lkIPZDaZivrWHnbqe1lZXby_xfCn?usp=sharing

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  1. Drax’s own reported emissions: https://www.drax.com/sustainability/carbon-emissions/#carbon-emissions
  2. BiofuelWatch website: https://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/axedrax-campaign/#easy-footnote-1-9267
  3. Carbon emissions from biomass: http://www.pfpi.net/carbon-emissions
  4. Page 11 of this Partnership for Policy Integrity document
  5. 2020 subsides summary: https://ember-climate.org/commentary/2021/02/25/drax-biomass-subsidies/
  6. COP26 Global Forest Finace pledge https://ukcop26.org/the-global-forest-finance-pledge/
  7. Details on UK biomass subsidies: https://ember-climate.org/project/the-burning-question/
  8. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-bans-logging-border-seattle-mayor-1.5384226
  9. https://ukcop26.org/glasgow-leaders-declaration-on-forests-and-land-use/
  10. https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy-environment/video/media-partnership-the-road-to-cop26-what-is-the-role-of-biofuels/
  11. https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/cop26-deforestation-brazil-backtracks-on-forests-pledge-before-conference-is-even-over/ar-AAQybsp
  12. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-59199484?at_medium=RSS&at_campaign=KARANGA
  13. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/11/04/boris-johnsons-pledge-end-forest-destruction-ignores-25m-trees/
  14. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/11/06/uk-has-real-problems-burning-wood-electricity-admits-zac-goldsmith/
  15. https://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2021/cop26-biomass-pr/
  16. https://wwfcee.org/what-we-do/climate/most-forest-biomass-worse-for-climate-than-fossil-fuels-eu-commission-report
  17. https://www.ehn.org/wood-pellet-energy-environmental-racism-2647890088.html