Environmental activists blockaded the access road to Didcot B Power Station, accusing the energy company that owns it of ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘greenwashing’. 

Extinction Rebellion members sat across the access road on Tuesday morning, next to a cardboard washing machine and clothes lines.

The power station is owned and operated by the German energy company RWE, which Extinction Rebellion claim has continued to use fossil fuels, while presenting itself as ‘green’ and committing to renewable energy. 

A large, green-painted washing machine stood in the middle of the road, with a box of ‘greenwashing powder’ on top of it, and washing lines with ‘greenwashed’ clothes hanging from it. Five of the protesters were ‘locked’ on in the road, putting their bodies on the line which they say highlights the gas company’s ‘denial of the truth’ about climate change.

Extinction Rebellion accused RWE of contributing to CO2 emissions, claiming that in 2017, it was ranked as Europe’s biggest emitter – and in 2020, despite its rebranding as a champion of renewable energy, still generates 80 per cent of its electricity from non-renewable sources.

This includes mining and burning ‘brown coal’, one of the highest emitting fuels, producing 20 per cent more carbon dioxide than regular coal and 40 cent more than crude oil for the same power output.

A spokesperson at RWE said they were aware of the protesters and said that the Extinction Rebellion demonstration did not disrupt the power.

They added: “At RWE, we have a clear direction of travel for the future: We are investing billions of euros in renewables. At the same time, we are rigorously and reliably reducing our CO2 emissions with a clear target: RWE to become carbon neutral by 2040.

"RWE is one of the few energy companies to have set challenging emissions targets and which are directly aligned to the Paris Agreement, confirmed by the renowned Science Based Targets initiative.” 

Protester Sue Spencer-Longhurst, 68, from Extinction Rebellion Oxford, said: “I am angered by RWE’s greenwashing. RWE counts burning wood biomass as a quarter of their renewable energy, but scientists tell us that using wood biomass is an even worse risk and a false solution to the climate crisis.

"And its persistent mining of brown coal with three open-cast mine ravaging swathes of countryside and forest in the German Rhenish region, needs to stop now.”

Fellow activist Catherine Allen, 65, from Oxford said: “I’m taking action today because RWE is saying one thing and doing another. Greenwashing is a delaying tactic, a huge barrier to climate change control in the UK.

"In a week’s time, G7 countries will meet. They too speak the fine words of carbon control, but we don’t see the action needed. G7 countries must tell the truth and act now.”

Last week doctors joined Extinction Rebellion protesters outside the G7 health meeting, condemning the ‘limited’ agenda.

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