Saturday, August 11, 2007

Power giants snub marchers
Two of the UK’s biggest greenhouse polluters have declined to meet Christian Aid campaigners who are walking 1,000 miles to draw attention to climate change.
Drax Group and Scottish and Southern Energy have both turned down Christian Aid’s requests to meet with the marchers as they passed the companies’ power stations on Friday, 10 August 2007.
Drax Group owns the UK’s largest coal-fired power station, Drax, which is in Selby, North Yorkshire, and has an output capacity of 4,000 megawatts (MW).
The company says Drax is the “cleanest” coal-fired power station in the UK.
However, coal is inherently dirty, producing more carbon dioxide than any other fuel. The giant power station emits 21 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – more than countries such as Chad, Mozambique and Senegal.
Scottish and Southern Energy meanwhile owns the Ferrybridge power station in Knottingley, West Yorkshire, which the climate change marchers also hoped to visit.
Ferrybridge is coal-fired, although it also burns some biomass, and has a capacity of 2,000 MW. Scottish and Southern emits almost 26 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year which is more than the annual emissions of countries including Sri Lanka, Jordan, Ghana, Uruguay and Burkina Faso.
Electricity generation is by far the most carbon-intensive of all industrial sectors in the UK because it is done mainly by burning coal and gas in a process which is highly inefficient.
‘They are hurting us’
One of the climate change marchers, Mohamed Adow from Kenya, said he was disappointed by the two companies’ rejections. ‘It is quite disheartening that the major emitters of carbon in the UK will not meet us,’ he said.
‘Their actions, their emissions, are hurting us. Kenya has been ravaged by climate shocks, shocks that emanate from climate change. Part of it is due to the burning of fossil fuels. Countless people have lost their lives and their livelihoods, had their lives devastated.’
Mohamed Adow works with poor farmers in Kenya, helping them to adapt to the drying effects of climate change.
He added that he hoped consumer power would force Drax and Scottish and Southern to work to reduce their climate impact, as people increasingly demand power from renewable sources.
‘People in poor countries are the first and the worst affected by your actions and God in his grace, through the actions of your clients, will make you do justice,’ he said.
‘The world has enough to satisfy our energy needs but nothing to satisfy your greed.’
Christian Aid’s marchers want to meet major companies along the route of their trans-UK walk, to draw their attention to the severe damage that climate change is already doing in countries where the aid agency works.
Half the core team of 20 marchers are themselves from developing countries, including Brazil, Kenya, Tajikistan, India and Bangladesh. The marchers are also asking firms about what they are doing to reduce their contribution to climate change.

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