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BIOMASS £BILLIONS: battle goes to Whitehall

<<A last-ditch protest against UK subsidies to burn trees has been held outside the Department for Energy, Security and Net Zero. Climate Action Newcastle joined Stop Burning Trees, biofuelwatch, Fossil Free, Climate Christian Action, Friends of the Earth and many more. At stake: new subsidies from 2027 that will increase still further the outrageous sums boosting profits for Lynemouth and Drax power stations. CAN sent a formal objection to the February Government consultation, and Olwyn Hocking represented the network as one of the protest speakers.>> ***LATEST RESEARCH, BACKGROUND AND HOW TO PROTEST TO YOUR MP HERE


CLIMATE ACTION NEWCASTLE SPEECH AT PROTEST


"The familiar sorry tale about why we must Axe Drax is bad enough. OUR money is being used to subsidise the Number 1 GHG emitter in the UK, and to subsidise forest destruction.

 

But the story gets even worse. There is a Drax 2 that has slipped under the radar.

  • This biomass plant is also one of the UK’s highest GHG emitters

  • It too is destroying forests and shipping wood around the world to burn it

  • And it too is being subsidised from our pockets.


I’ve travelled here from Newcastle because that Drax 2 is on our doorstep. It's called Lynemouth power station. In one way, it’s even worse than Drax. It’s a subsidiary of a totally private company, EPH, so there are no annual general meetings, no chance to protest. Its owner is a billionaire based in Czechoslovakia. Daniel Křetínský specialises in spotting opportunities to snap up older power plants and exploit out-of-date mad bad rules to make a fast buck. And the UK – with our subsidies – is making him even richer.

Together with Drax, the two have burned up billions of UK pounds. We are actively incentivising them BOTH to destroy trees around the world – the trees that are helping us FOR FREE to absorb carbon emissions and combat the climate crisis. The Government’s proposals to increase those subsidies is accelerating rising temperatures and climate breakdown. The carbon emissions from burning wood are no less than those from burning coal. And we are funding this from our pockets.


I’d like to share one personal reason why this campaign is even more important to me than all the other climate campaigning that we all do. I'm fortunate to have Canadian relatives living near primary old growth forests in British Colombia. I‘ve seen how miraculous they are. On almost no nutrients, mighty trees grow for more than a thousand years, supporting biodiversity and of course producing oxygen vital for life. Their hidden networks below the soil transport nutrients to other trees, supporting the group. When they die, their logs decompose and are essential to support the next generation of trees. The amazing BBC Panorama documentary exposed how BC forests are being cleared for biomass burning that we are subsidising. It was quite unbearable. These old growth forests are irreplaceable – we are incentivising their destruction.

Here are three things we can do:

  • We must lobby our MPs – make sure they understand WHY this is illogical and counter productive

  • We must spread the word – it is everyone’s money that is being used to harm all our futures

  • And to help OUR understanding, “Finding the Mother Tree” tells the story of the BC scientist whose research proved the existence of the “wood wide web” and why we must protect the world’s forests. It’s good to fuel our anger!

 

I’ll finish by sharing the latest evidence about how utterly crazy these new subsidies are. You know it must be beyond stupid when there is a chorus of opposition across all the media, including The Telegraph and even The Spectator magazine. Its recent article begins:

"When is the government going to stop pretending that chopping down trees in North American forests and shipping them across the Atlantic to burn them in UK power stations is a zero-carbon form of energy?"

Its headline sums up this sorry proposal to spend even more:

“The farce of Drax’s wood pellets”.


And of course, we know it is even worse – it is a double farce, with our government seeking to throw money at our Czech billionaire and Lynemouth as well. Thank you for supporting this protest. We have to win this battle. And we will."


***Organisations speaking out at protest:

Stop Burning Trees Coalition/Axe Drax (Merry Dickinson - organiser - pictured)

Climate Action Newcastle (Olwyn Hocking)

Green Party (Baroness Jenny Jones - pictured)

Greenpeace (Doug Parr)

Fossil Free London (Robin Wells)

Biofuelwatch (Katy Brown - organiser, led singing - pictured)

Stop Rosebank (Versha)

Money Rebellion (Claude Fourcroy)

Campaign Against Climate Change (Claire James)

Fuel Poverty Action (solidarity statement read by Katy Brown)

Christian Climate Action (Judith)

Friends of the Earth (Claire Oxbarrow)


***Latest research and coverage:

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