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3 Oct 2014
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Tom Feilden Environmental Battle Lines

by Tom Feilden
America's largest oil company, Exxon Mobil, is fast becoming the environmental activists target of choice.

A week of demonstrations around the world kicks off in America today, as Greenpeace launch a new campaign. On Saturday activists here will try to convince motorists at some 300 Esso petrol stations (as the company is better known here) to take their custom elsewhere.

Exxon's "crime" has been to question received wisdom about the impact of climate change, and openly oppose the Kyoto Protocol. The company say the protocol's emissions reduction targets will cost billions to meet, but the benefits would be minimal.

Things came to a head over the sacking of Dr Robert Watson, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, last month. Activists accused the company of conspiring with the Bush administration to topple the scientist, who has been instrumental in building a scientific consensus on global warming. However Exxon denies any involvement in the removal of Dr Watson, pointing out that government representatives from across the world vote for the position, not Exxon.

The attack on Exxon has been vitriolic and, at times, personal. One activist recently compared the company's chief executive, Lee Raymond, to the Bond villain Blofeld - calmly stroking his cat as he plots the downfall of civilisation from an underground bunker somewhere in Texas.

For their part Exxon Mobil say there are big holes in our understanding of climate change, and that time may be on our side. It may be 80 to 120 years before the real impact of global warming is felt, and by then technology will have come to the rescue.

Esso - you can read Esso's response to the campaign on their website
UK Stop Esso Campaign
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Costing the Earth

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Esso sign
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