Apr 27, 2022

At 7am this morning a member of Axe Drax covered the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in bright orange paint using a modified fire extinguisher, hanging banners banners that read “Stop Burning Trees” and “Rise Up for Reparations”. He has now scaled the entrance. This is the beginning of a series of protests today against Drax Group on their annual general meeting, as campaigners gather in Liverpool, Leeds, York, Hull and outside Drax’s AGM in London.

Just weeks after Extinction Rebellion scientists targeted BEIS for their financing of fossil fuels, Axe Drax is here to demonstrate that it’s renewable policies are dangerously harmful too. They give huge amounts of subsidies to the ecocidal biomass industry, particularly Drax Power Station. By 2027 the biomass industry as a whole will have received £13billion in renewable subsidies, and £10billion of that has gone directly to Drax. BEIS is funding pollution and destruction around the world.

Drax is the UKs single largest carbon emitter, yet received £832 million in renewable subsidies last year which is more than £2 million per day. In the last year they were removed from the Green Energy Index, despite this, they continue to receive huge amounts of renewable subsidies. Biomass is one of the most carbon intensive forms of biofuel, yet this is ignored by politicians so Drax can be called the main supplier of ‘renewable energy’ in the UK.

The criminal injustice of Drax fills me with despair and needs to stop. Drax power station is accelerating the climate crises, whilst being labelled as the solution, costing taxpayers in their energy bills and is in court with the HSE for their work conditions. There are so many layers of injustice in this, it’s surreal they still receive public money. The government energy strategy must see through the bullshit of Drax and cancel the funding.

  • The person who doused the department building in paint

Axe Drax is calling on the government to:

  1. Tell the Truth: Governments and corporations must be honest: biomass causes irreparable damage to the health of people and our life support systems. It is not a clean source of fuel, it is time to stop the greenwashing.
  2. Defund Biomass: Remove the £billions in subsidies given to Drax and other biomass power stations around the UK. This money is used to fund death and destruction around the world, harming POC and poorer communities the most whilst corporations profit. If we stop the money we stop the train of destruction.
  3. Fund Community Solutions: The £billions given to biomass should be used to fund a just transition: furlough, retrain and transfer workers in the biomass industry; invest in education, affordable housing and health; fund genuine renewable energy; develop a plan of degrowth moving away from profit motives fuelling the climate crisis towards community based solutions.

In the BEIS November 2021 Biomass Policy Statement, they suggest that biomass has a core role to play in decarbonisation. Per unit of energy generated, biomass is worse than coal, producing 40-60% more carbon than modern coal stations. We cannot allow this inefficient and destructive form of fuel to continue being classed as renewable. Research has demonstrated that it takes 40-100 years to reabsorb the carbon emitted from burning trees for fuel. The most recent IPCC report suggests that we have 3-4 years to avert climate catastrophe, 100 years is a death sentence.

We are looking at millions of people dying at an increasing rate across the global south, and communities are directly being harmed now by the insane biomass industry that this government funds. By 2027 Drax will have received £10billion in renewable subsidies, coming straight out of our fuel bills and given to them by BEIS. This is a disgusting misuse of public money. We have to stop burning trees now.

  • Rosie, 24, another member of Axe Drax involved

Drax is currently asking for more public money to fund BECCS, which is estimated to cost over £31billion. BECCS has never been shown to work on the scale required to make biomass carbon neutral. Even if BECCS did work, studies have found that demand for biomass would increase to such a degree that we would face global food shortages and desertification. BEIS cannot continue funding climate catastrophe.

Axe Drax and many other groups have been peacefully campaigning against biomass for years. We have signed petitions, written letters, held protests, lobbied decision makers, but this destructive industry is being allowed to continue funded by public money. Harm is being felt right now by the BIPOC people on the front lines of Drax’s business of destruction. Our climate is on the brink of tipping points that would put every society at risk of collapse, with those in the global south already feeling disastrous, irreparable loss of and damage to life, home, stability and knowledge.