Saturday 1 December was a national day of protest again Esso called by Stop Esso. The coalition founded by Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and People and Planet called the day of acton to draw attention to Esso's attempts to prevent the Kyoto Agreement from going ahead.
Esso fund multi-million dollar propaganda organisations to dismiss the case for action to protect the climate. Esso ran an advertising campaign in the US press condemning the Kyoto Agreement and lobbied President Bush to pull out of the United Nations climate negotiations.
Here's what happened locally:
On Saturday 1st December, Manchester campaigners joined forces for a nation-wide day of action against Esso. Protesters gathered outside the Esso station opposite Manchester Apollo armed with banners leaflets and tiger masks to persuade car drivers not to put a tiger in their tank! The Manchester protest was part of a nation-wide day of action called by the "Stop-Esso" coalition, when hundreds of Esso garages around the country were targeted by people concerned about global warming. The day aimed to draw attention to Esso's attempts to prevent a world agreement to tackle this problem from going ahead.
On arrival at the station, protesters explained to the staff that today was Stop-Esso day and handed them a leaflet. Within minutes the first police van of the day arrived, containing several officers who proceeded to quiz individuals about their intentions and keep an eye on the action! An hour or so later they finally left us to it. Throughout the course of the day, the police were called three more times, mainly to tell us to keep off the forecourt, but also due to one protester's heroic attempt to turn the emergency "off" switch for the petrol supply. Unfortunately he had to make a run for it after missing by just inches.
Hundreds of motorists were targeted. A couple of people took to leafleting the traffic queue at the Pelican Crossing, whilst the rest of us covered the surrounding area with "Stop-Esso" road signs, posters and banners, manned the entrances and dashed around the forecourt talking to motorists. Drivers were stopped on the way into the station, and after listening to the truth about Esso, many then drove straight out the other side. Our 'Beep for the Boycott' signs which were tied to the roundabout on the approach to the station also got a big response, although possibly not always a supportive one!
Esso is the biggest corporation in the world and has been working hard over the last decade to block a global agreement on action to stop Climate Change. Thanks to Esso's lobbying, the United States pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol - the only international agreement to cut the pollution causing global warming. In September, the world's top climate scientists published a new report, which predicted that the earth's temperature could rise by nearly 6 degrees centigrade by 2100 due to human activities. This global climatic change will change our weather causing more droughts, floods and storms, and could cause sea levels to rise by nearly a metre. Yet Esso still denies the link between climate change and the burning of oil, coal and gas. The company made massive profits of $17.7 billion last year, and expect to spend $7.9 billion this year looking for more oil, coal and gas, but still refuse to invest in clean, renewable energy.
A spokesperson for Manchester Stop Esso Campaign said,
Manchester Friends of the Earth (0161 834 8221, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Above left: Manchester campaigners say "Don't put a tiger in your tank!"
Above right: Bush's effigy awaiting car drivers
Braving typical Oldham weather the campaigners, including a very bedraggled Global Tiger, made their presence felt outside Marsland Service Station on Manchester Street. They waved placards, gave out leaflets, and put up signs such as "50 Metres Climate Villains!", "15 Metres Boycott" and "Beep for the Boycott".
"The response from Oldham's motorists was absolutely fantastic" said group coordinator George Czernuszka. "They beeped their horns and waved their support for our campaign. Time and again cars would slow down to pull into the garage, then change their minds as they saw our message".
"The protest was totally peaceful and good natured. Even the police were very friendly as they chatted to us, and even took some of our leaflets" said campaigner Bill Edwards. "More and more people are getting the message, and buying their fuel from other oil companies".
George Czernuszka, Oldham Friends of the Earth (0161 236 0535 (day), 01706 84 3415 (evening))