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Monday, 13 May, 2002, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
Green protesters target ExxonMobil
ExxonMobil refinery
Protestors say ExxonMobil wants loose environmental controls
Environmental lobby group Greenpeace plans to step up its campaign for a consumer boycott of US oil giant ExxonMobil, which it accuses of a cavalier attitude to global warming.

Greenpeace activists will lobby motorists at petrol stations in the US, Canada, the UK - where it will target 300 forecourts in a one-day protest - Australia, New Zealand and Norway.

We're going to...tell them a very, very simple thing to do - don't buy Esso

Cindy Baxter
ExxonMobil has angered environmentalists by opposing the Kyoto agreement on climate change - a pact that lost much of its force when the US administration withdrew from it.

The company insists that it opposed Kyoto because there was no way the US and some other countries could practically have met the obligations contained in it.

And it says that it takes climate change seriously, listing a roster of projects including fuel cell and CO2 emissions control.

Memo row

But Greenpeace says the alternatives to Kyoto put forward by the Bush administration - technology transfer and voluntary curbs among them - read "like a wish list of big polluters".

ExxonMobil, it says, ranks prominently on that list.

ExxonMobil seems "determined to prevent international regulation that's going to start tackling the emissions from fossil fuels which is their core business - oil and gas", Greenpeace spokesman Rob Geuterboc told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Esso petrol station
Protests will focus on petrol stations

Protest organiser Cindy Baxter said: "We're going to be communicating with Esso's customers to tell them a very, very simple thing to do - don't buy Esso."

Esso is the brand name for many Exxon-owned petrol stations.

In April, tensions between ExxonMobil and environmentalists were raised over accusations that the firm pressed the White House to unseat the UN's chief climate change expert.

ExxonMobil has denied it was the source of a controversial memo, saying that a third party wrote the memo.

The document requested the dismissal of atmospheric scientist Dr Robert Watson from his post as the head of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Dr Watson was later voted out of the chairmanship of IPCC.

Shareholders weigh in

ExxonMobil spokesman Gordon Sawyer has acknowledged that the firm's high profile opposition to the Kyoto accords had backfired, though he defended the company's right to express its views on US energy policy.

"If you ask us could we have a better job on getting our viewpoints across, I think I'd have to agree with you and say: 'We can do better on that and we will'," said Mr Sawyer told the Today programme.

"We did voice clear, reasoned opposition to Kyoto but we did that openly, honestly and transparently."

Later this month, the oil firm's shareholders meeting will vote on two critical motions put forward by shareholders ethical investment campaign, Stop ExxonMobil.

Peter Altman, of SEM, said the firm has "really stuck its neck out" and "is putting billions and billions of dollars of shareholders value at risk" with its high profile opposition to Kyoto.

Greenpeace said it plans to hold protests outside UK petrol stations on Saturday, 18 May.

See also:

19 Apr 02 | Sci/Tech
Climate scientist ousted
05 Apr 02 | Americas
ExxonMobil hits back in memo row
15 Feb 02 | Americas
US scepticism over global warming
14 Feb 02 | Americas
Q&A: The US and climate change
14 Feb 02 | Americas
US plans Kyoto alternative
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