Oil giant tries again to silence protests

Esso tries to sue Greenpeace over Luxembourg protests

Feature story - 8 January, 2003
Oil giant Esso is attempting to sue Greenpeace for more than 225,000 Euros over a peaceful protest against Esso's continuing sabotage of international efforts to protect the climate. Rather than change its damaging practices Esso is seeking to silence protests in the favourite manner of corporate criminals - through the courts.

Greenpeace activists struggle with a banner in strong winds after they shut down the Esso station in Wasserbillig, Luxembourg.

Esso, also known as Exxon and Mobil, is seeking damages for loss of income over the protest held in Luxembourg, in which 600 volunteers from around the world shut down the all the company's petrol stations for the day.

"Esso is simply trying to squash all opposition by dragging anyone who dares to protest against its behaviour through the courts," said Pascal Husting, executive director of Greenpeace in Luxembourg.

"Esso can take Greenpeace to every court in the world but it will not stop the campaign."

"The real issue here is not about Greenpeace shutting down Esso's operations in Luxembourg for one day. It's about Esso's continual sabotage of international action on climate change that threatens the lives of millions of people around the world," said Husting.

"Esso is the world's most profitable company and for the past decade it has been responsible for the blatant and sustained manipulation of US and international climate change policy in its crusade to derail international efforts to address climate change. It was a major influence in US President, George W. Bush's decision to walk away from the Kyoto Protocol."

"This latest legal action is typical Esso behaviour," said Husting. Next week the French court system will hear another round of the case in which Esso is trying to sue Greenpeace over a website that is critical of the company and its stance on climate change. The company has also taken legal action against Greenpeace in Germany and the United Kingdom. Esso knows it is losing the debate on climate change so as a last resort it is spending money on costly lawsuits in an attempt to squash protests.

Esso, the world's biggest oil corporation, denies that burning oil, coal and gas contributes to climate change, despite the opinion of the world's best scientific bodies and the evidence of severe climate change impacts, such as more frequent and dangerous extreme weather events, the retreat of glaciers and the destruction of coral reefs. In 2001 Esso made profits of US$15.5 billion.