Posts Tagged ‘Axe Drax’

XR Rebellion – Day 3

Friday, October 9th, 2020

On 9th October 2019 I was with Extinction Rebellion outside the Royal Courts of Justice. Perhaps not surprisingly, this protest organised by Lawyers for XR had a rather different feel to most other XR events. The ‘All Rise for Climate Justice’ event stressed the need for a law against ecocide to protect the planet.

Rather a lot of people, many of them lawyers and including some distinguished name, were crammed into the relatively small area of pavement in front of the courts. This made it a difficult event to cover as it was hard to move around much without being obtrusive.

The event launched the ‘Lawyers Declaration of Rebellion’ and copies of it were handed out rolled up an tied with pink ribbon in the traditional manner used for the bundles of papers taken into court by defence barristers. Pink ribbons are now used to distinguish briefs from private citizens from those from the Crown which are tied with white ribbon.

As the event at the Royal Courts of Justice ended I left quickly and rushed down to Victoria St where Axe Drax were protesting outside the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) calling for an end to the subsidies given to fossil fuels and biomass which produce climate destroying carbon dioxide. They called for the closure of Drax power station which burns wood pellets and coal, pointing out the absurdity of paying them £2 million a day in ‘renewable’ subsidies taken from our electricity bills as thepower station is the greatest single producer of carbon dioxide in the UK.

Usually I would have taken a bus for the journey, but the centre of London was still blocked to traffic and I had to walk – with a little running now and then – covering the mile and a half in 15 minutes. Even so I arrived halfway through the protest, but was pleased to be in time to hear Mayer Hillman, 88 year old Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Policy Studies Institute and a leading Green campaigner for many years speaking.

After that protest ended I walked around the other sites still occupied by XR. Although police were continuing to force them off some locations, trashing some tents and making more arrests, there was still no traffic in key locations and workshops and other events continued, with protesters still in fine spirits and something of a festival atmosphere. It isn’t every day that you get your beard pulled (gently) by a giant wallaby.

XR were not the only protesters in Trafalgar Square, and I was also able to cover a protest by Bangladeshi students demanding an end to violence on campus in Bangladesh universities after the beating to death of student Abrar Fahad by leaders of the Bangladesh Chhatra League, the student wing of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League, at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology on 7 Oct 2019.

It was another long day for me as I then went on to meet friends at the launch of Paul Trevor’s book Once Upon a Time in Brick Lane‘, before wandering down Brick Lane and taking a few photographs on my way to the tube. It was around 2am before I finished processing and filing my pictures for the day, and I needed to take the next day off to have a rest.

Many more pictures on My London Diary:

Brick Lane Night
Bangladeshi students protest campus violence
Extinction Rebellion Day 3
Biofuel Watch – Axe Drax at BEIS
All Rise For Climate Justice


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


BEIS told to Axe Drax

Saturday, March 28th, 2020
Mayer Hillman, 88 year old Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Policy Studies Institute

I arrived some time after the start of this protest by Biofuel Watch outside the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) having been at the Royal Courts of Justice for the XR Lawyers declaration of Rebellion, but was fortunately in time to hear some of the main speakers, including Mayer Hillman who has been writing about environment issues for many years – and whose work has inspired some government actions such as energy standards for housing and 20mph speed limits to reduce road deaths. But his warnings on the need for urgent climate action over many years have so far failed to produce any significant actions.

You can listen to his video “The Last and Most Important Advice I Will Ever Give” on YouTube, which puts the information on Climate Change simply and directly. Over 70% of the greenhouse gases causing global warming come from burning fossil fuels – coal, gas and oil – which are produced by around 100 companies, and we have to stop using fossil fuels. The other main source is deforestation, with the destruction of forests for agricultural land and the burning of wood.

Drax is a major UK source of carbon dioxide, and claims huge ‘environmental subsidies’ for doing so, despite their huge contribution to global warming. Switching to wood burning has made Drax a worse polluter but the UK government gives it £2 million a day for ‘renewable’ subsidies out of our electricity bills for doing so – and Drax has plans for expansion to also become the UK’s largest gas-fired power station.

As Hillman says, if life on the planet is to continue we need urgently to stop both fossil fuel use and deforestation, but our current politicians have failed to take effective action. We need to vote them out and vote in others who will do so.

He urges people to join the global rebellion led by XR and for young people to be inspired by the actions of Greta Thunberg and join the youth climate strike protests.

More at Biofuel Watch – Axe Drax at BEIS.

End rewarding Drax for pollution

Friday, August 9th, 2019

I’ve never felt bad about having a bonfire in the garden. We generate a lot of small branches from various shrubs and trees that have to be regularly cut back, and it’s material that mostly won’t compost. And although we have several large compost bins, we’ve found from experience that they don’t get hot enough to destroy a few really tough and troublesome weeds, So these often get put on the bonfire too, though we could pay for the council to collect them as garden waste.

All this carbon release is of short-term carbon, mostly this year’s carbon, and there is no net increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide caused by our gardening.

And of course the bonfire produces carbon dioxide, but firstly it is only a fraction of the carbon dioxide which has been turned into wood and leaf in our garden, with the rest remaining locked in as our bushes and trees grow bushier and taller, or being eaten (and thus released) as fruit and vegetables. More too gets back in to the atmosphere from the green waste that does go into our compost bins.

Of course there are other pollutants from our very occasional garden bonfires, including particulates and doubtless toxic chemicals. But I am fairly sure that the amounts of these are relatively small and will add little to those already in our air here from the nearby roads, motorways and Heathrow.

But burning wood to produce electricity at Drax is a quite different matter. One obvious difference is that of scale: Last year Drax burnt 7.2 million tonnes of wood pellets, equivalent to at least twice that amount of green wood, and more than the UK’s total annual wood production, and released 13.02 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere (in addition to another  4.36 million tonnes from coal and other fossil fuels.)

The wood burnt at Drax is ‘old’, having grown over many years, and even with the most sustainable forest planting to replace it will take more than 50 years. The majority of it comes as pellets from the USA, mostly produced from hardwood from the clear-cutting of biodiverse forest ecosystems, and the major producer, Enviva has been subject to heavy criticism both for its destruction of these swamp and wetland forests, and for locating its highly polluting pellet plants in areas of social deprivation already exposed to high levels of industrial pollution.

Drax’s carbon-producing wood burning is only financially viable because it gets huge subsidies. In 2018 these amounted to £789.2 million, This money comes from our energy bills which carry a surcharge, intended for promoting renewable electricity. It should not be used to promote highly polluting and essentially non-renewable wood burning. The subsidies are greater than the company’s annual profits and without them wood-burning would not be viable.

Drax also gets subsidies from the government for burning coal, though on a rather smaller scale, but also impossible to justify. For 2019/20 this is  £22 million, and similar subsidies are expected until 2025. It is also expected to be subsidised for burning gas, and wants to greatly expand its generation from gas.

These huge subsidies to Drax for its contribution to global warming come at at time when our government has slashed subsidies for truly renewable energy production from onshore wind and solar power as well as those for energy efficiency and conservation.

More about the protest outside Drax’s AGM in the City of London, and later outside the Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) demanding an end to environmental subsidies for massive pollution in two posts on My London Diary:
Drax wood burning must end
Drax Protest at BEIS


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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