Greenpeace shuts down Esso

Every pump in Luxembourg occupied

Feature story - 25 October, 2002
While the world's nations talked about the Kyoto protocol and how to stop climate change at a conference in India, Greenpeace took action to stop the world's #1 climate criminal in an entire nation.

Greenpeace activists block an Esso petrol station for business in Esch, Luxembourg.

We declared the nation of Luxembourg - known as the fuel pump of Europe - an Esso-free zone today.

More than 600 volunteers, ordinary people from 31 countries came to Luxembourg to take on the world's biggest oil corporation, protesting Esso's continuing and blatant interference in international climate politics. Every single one of Esso's 28 petrol stations in Luxembourg was targetted with peaceful protests, and no Esso oil flowed from retail pumps in the country for the entire day.

The stations were blocked by caution tape, "Closed" signs, and volunteers chained to pumps or across entrances. According to one activist "90% of the people going by have supported us with waves and thumbs up." There was a reported incident of a station manager attempting to drive a car through a banner being held by protesters, but the day was otherwise without violence.

There were no reports of arrests, though one activist at a station in Larochette reported the following conversation with a police officer:

"[He] told us the manager filed a complaint, but he had no instruction to remove us. He asked us 'If I make you leave, you will just come back?' We told him yes, and he left us alone."

Late in the day, as the protest was drawing to a close, Esso reportedly filed an injunction against Greenpeace to demand an end to the protest.

Greenpeace International Executive Director Gerd Leipold appeared at Wasserbillig, the world's largest petrol station, dressed in a costume of the Exxon Tiger mascot. He stated that to the people who witnessed the action "we were able to explain very well that we had every reason to hit Esso."

When it comes to Climate Change, all oil companies are bad, but Esso, also known as ExxonMobil or Mobil, is the worst of the worst. Not only is it the biggest, but it uses its financial strength to try to ensure that it can keep polluting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases without any limitations. Esso has been a key player in the USA's decision not to be part of the Kyoto Protocol -the only international agreement aimed at controlling the greenhouse emissions that are hurting our climate. Esso denies climate change is a real problem and it doesn't invest a single cent in renewable energy.

Luxembourg is famous for "petrol tourism". It offers cheap fuel to motorists who visit from all over Europe to fill their tanks. Petrol tourists who stop at Esso in Luxembourg today will be met by volunteers locked onto pumps and greeted with banners reading "Esso: Number 1 climate criminal".

Esso's core business fuels climate change and it is doing all in its power to ensure the status quo doesn't change. It has tried to hijack the climate debate through the use of front groups, flawed science and large political contributions and refuses to spend any of its billions on clean renewable energy. The demonstration in Luxembourg is about showing the company the level of public anger at its self-serving actions to frustrate climate protection measures.

Participants in the protest have come from the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the USA, Turkey and Yugoslavia.

Regular updates were filed from the scene on