#AxeDrax: UK must end support for coal and biomass reaped from US and Colombia

 

En el Día de la Tierra se hizo presión respecto biomasa y carbón en el Reino Unido, y la Estación Energética de Drax, la más grande de este país, se vio intervenida por ambientalistas que cuestionaron las Fuentes de sus recursos.

P4221391 (copy)

Una demostración avivada fue sostenida en la calle, y en el Departamento de Energía y Cambio Climático del gobierno británico se hizo entrega de una carta junto con pancartas que tildaban al Ministro de Energía Ed Davey el “cosechador” de bosques. En la carta se le solicitaba al Departamento de Energía y Cambio Climático detener los subsidios entregados a la estación energética de Drax, y prohibir el uso de unidades de carbón, y fue firmada por organizaciones internacionales de ambos lados del Atlántico.

Durante la demostración, Julie Timbrell, una de las personas que sostuvo la campaña, leyó en voz alta un discurso que daba cuenta del numero de especies de aves y otras especies afectadas por la extracción de fuentes de energía por parte de Drax en el sur de los Estados Unidos. Después de ser expulsada de la AGM, Julie dijo:

“Sostuve la campaña el día de hoy porque tengo interés en que los ejecutivos y accionistas de Drax sepan el daño que están causando. La pérdida de biodiversidad es tan importante como el Cambio Climático, e íntimamente relacionado con este. Drax debe comprender que sus operaciones están afectando la biodiversidad en algunos de los humedales y bosques temperados más importantes del planeta”.

El día de la protesta también intervino Oliver Munnion, Co-director de campañas de Biofuelwatch con la Red de Acción de Carbón, y dijo:

“Este es el tercer año consecutivo que intervenimos a Drax, y esta vez también hemos llevado nuestra protesta al Departamento de Energía y Cambio Climático por el apoyo que brinda a esta estación eléctrica. Si el Reino Unido es serio respecto a sus intenciones de reducir sus emisiones de carbono y se preocupa por las comunidades afectadas por minas de carbón y los bosques derribados como fuente de biomasa, entonces el polucionante más grande de este país debe ser clausurado. Ha llegado el momento de cortar con la operación de Drax”.

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La estación energética de Drax en Yorkshire es la que más quema carbón en el Reino Unido, y es ahora también la estación energética a partir de biomasa más grande del mundo. La compañía ha admitido que importa carbón desde Colombia, donde comunidades enteras han sido desplazadas por grandes minas a tajo abierto. La región más afectada por la extracción de carbón en Colombia es La Guajira, un desierto en el que las comunidades étnicas locales han logrado encontrar maneras de subsistir en este ecosistema por muchas generaciones. Este ecosistema fragil donde el agua es escasa ha sido fuertemente afectado por la extracción de carbon, y hoy las comunidades que lo habitan se enfrentan a serios problemas de escasez de agua, nutrición y hambruna en niños y mujeres. Las comunidades Wayuú de esta region se están enfrentando a la muerte, y Colombia está viviendo una emergencia nacional teniendo que atender esta situación. Con el fin de resaltar las injusticias transnacionales relacionadas con la cadena de suministro de Drax y la energía británica, la carta dirigida al Departamento de Energía y Cambio Climático fue firmada por varias organizaciones colombianas y la organización Colombian Solidarity Network con base en Londres.

Grupos conservacionistas de los Estados Unidos también han mostrado rechazo a la extracción de unidades de madera por parte de Drax para convertirlas en unidades de biomasa, provenientes de la destrucción de algunos de los bosques temperados más biodiversos del planeta.

Adam Macon, el Director de la Campaña Alianza Dogwood expresó:

“Los bosques del sur de Estados Unidos son unos de los ecosistemas más diversos en el mundo. La demanda de unidades de madera para alimentar en creciente apetito de Drax ha causado efectos devastantes en nuestros bosques y comunidades. Los habitantes de esta zona se han quejado de que sus bosques estén siendo derribados y transportados al Reino Unido para ser quemados. Nos levantamos unidos enviando un mensaje claro al Departamento de Energía y Cambio Climático porque ha llegado el momento de “cortar” a Drax”.

Hablando sobre la protesta, Richard Solly, el coordinador de la London Mining Network, quien también firmó la carta, expresó:

“El carbón es mala noticia en todo sentido, desde su extracción hasta sus emisiones, afectando a los trabajadores que lo extraen, las comunidades desplazadas por la extracción, las personas que viven cerca del lugar donde es quemado y la atmósfera de la que todos dependemos. Seguir subsidiando el carbón quemado por Drax le dice al mundo que Inglaterra no se preocupa por el Cambio Climático, derechos humanos e inclusive nuestra propia calidad del aire. Este Día de la Tierra es el momento perfecto para que el Departamento de Energía y Cambio Climático detenga los subsidios que entrega a Drax y demuestre un camino hacia la energía sostenible hacia el futuro”.

A campaigner sends a clear message about biomass. Credit: Biofuelwatch

A campaigner sends a clear message about biomass. Credit: Biofuelwatch

Drax ha convertido dos unidades de carbón a biomasa y tiene planes de convertir un tercio de sus operaciones para 2016. Con tres unidades convertidas, Drax requeriría algo cerca de las 7 millones de toneladas de pellets de madera al año, de las cuales la mayoría serán importadas. Esto equivale casi a 1.5 veces más que la producción de madera anual de todo el Reino Unido. Además, las unidades restantes de carbón de la operación de Drax estarán quemando casi 4 millones de toneladas de carbón al año, así que ya tendrían que haber cerrado si no contaran con la conversión parcial a biomasa. Para 2016, Drax será elegible para recibir cerca de 660 millones de libras esterlinas en subsidios al año.

Los activistas de la campaña también retaron el discurso de que el uso de biomasa reduce las emisiones de carbono, pues ya existe evidencia de que puede generar inclusive más emisiones que el carbón. La comunidad científica también está empezando a contribuir en este debate. Se espera que la demanda por biomasa se incremente en los próximos años debido a los lucrativos subsidios que se están ofreciendo a esta industria por parte del Departamento de Energía y Cambio Climático en este país.

Article adpated from original Biofuelwatch press release. (Please see for fully referenced version.)

On Earth Day environmental campaigners disrupted the AGM of Drax, the operators of the UK’s largest power station, as part of a day of action on biomass and coal.

A lively demonstration was held outside the venue and a stunt was carried out at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, where a cardboard cut out of UK Energy Minister Ed Davey was dressed as the “Grimm Reaper of Forests” and presented with an open letter. The letter called on DECC to end subsidies for Drax power station and phase out its coal units, and was signed by NGOs from both sides of the Atlantic.

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(Campaigners protest outside the Drax AGM in London Credit: Biofuelwatch)

Julie Timbrell, a biomass campaigner, disrupted the AGM by unravelling and reading from a scroll detailing all of the species of birds and other wildlife that are impacted by Drax’s biomass sourcing in the southern US. After being ejected from the AGM, Julie said:

“I disrupted the AGM today because I want the Drax executives and shareholders to know what harm they are causing. Biodiversity loss is an issue as important as climate change, and intimately linked to it. Drax has to understand that its operations are harming biodiversity in some of the world’s most important temperate wetland forests.”

Julie Timbrell with illustrated list of species affected by forest destruction driven by Drax's demand for biomass. Credit: Biofuelwatch

(Julie Timbrell with illustrated list of species affected by forest destruction in USA driven by Drax’s demand for biomass. Credit: Biofuelwatch)

Speaking at the the protest today, Biofuelwatch Co-Director and Campaigner with the Coal Action Network Oliver Munnion said:

“This is the third year running that we’ve targeted Drax, and this time we’ve also taken our protest to the Department for Energy and Climate Change over its support for the power station. If the UK is serious about bringing down carbon emissions, and cares at all about the communities being dug up by coal mines and the forests being chopped down for biomass, then the UK’s biggest polluter has to go. It really is time to axe Drax.”

Campaigners deliver letter to DECC with the help of 'Grim Reaper of Forests', UK Energy Minister Ed Davey. Credit: Biofuelwatch

(Campaigners deliver letter to DECC with the help of ‘Grim Reaper of Forests’, UK Energy Minister Ed Davey. Credit: Biofuelwatch)

Drax power station in Yorkshire is the largest coal-burner in the UK, and is now also the biggest biomass power station in the world. The company has admitted sourcing coal from Colombia, where whole communities have been displaced for huge opencast coal mines. Highlighting the transnational injustices bound up in Drax’s supply chain and the UK energy, the letter to DECC drew support from several Colombian organisations, community groups and UK-based Colombia Solidarity Network.

US conservation groups have also shown that Drax is sourcing wood pellets for its converted biomass units that have come from the destruction of some of the world’s most biodiverse temperate forests.

Adam Macon, Campaign Director with Dogwood Alliance, and a signatory to the open letter said:

“The forests of the Southern US are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. The demand for wood pellets to feed Drax’s growing appetite has caused devastating effects to our forests and communities. Southerners are becoming outraged when they learn that their forests are being cleatcut, shipped to the UK and burned. We stand united in sending a clear message to DECC that it’s time they axe Drax.”

Drax Power Station. Credit: Wikipedia

(Drax Power Station, Yorkshie. Credit: Wikipedia)

Speaking at the protest, Richard Solly, coordinator for the London Mining Network and another letter signatory said:

“Coal is bad news at every level, from its extraction to its emissions, harming the workers who mine it, the communities displaced by its extraction, the people living where it is burned, and the atmosphere we all rely on. Continuing to subsidise coal at Drax tells the world that Britain is not concerned with climate change, human rights, or even our own air quality. This Earth Day is the perfect moment for DECC to pull its subsidies for Drax and show the way to a sustainable energy future.”

Drax has converted two units to biomass and plans to convert a third by 2016. With three converted units, Drax will require some 7 million tonnes of wood pellets a year, the vast majority of which will be imported. This is equivalent to almost 1.5 times the UK’s total annual wood production. In addition, Drax’s remaining coal units will be burning almost 4 million tonnes of coal a year, but would otherwise have had to close down without the partial biomass conversion. By 2016, Drax will be eligible for around £660 million in subsidies each year.

A campaigner sends a clear message about biomass. Credit: Biofuelwatch

(A campaigner sends a clear message about biomass. Credit: Biofuelwatch)

Campaigners also challenged claims that biomass reduces carbon emissions, as evidence shows that it can be more carbon intensive than coal. The scientific community is increasingly speaking out on this point. Demand for biomass is set to sky-rocket over the coming years because of lucrative subsidies being offered to the industry by DECC.

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