Tigers take on Esso at France's biggest refinery

Feature story - 21 May, 2002
The Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace's flagship, sailed up the Seine to Esso's Port Jerome refinery near Le Havre this morning.

Greenpeace activist at French Esso refinery.

Using inflatable boats, Greenpeace activists prevented tankers from leaving the refinery, and had hoses turned on them by the tanker crews. On shore more activists, some dressed as tigers - Esso's corporate symbol - blocked road tanker access gates into the facility and handed out information to workers and passers-by. More tigers scaled the perimeter "watchtowers" and amplified the Stop Esso message with loudhailers.

"Regardless of where in the world it operates, whether under the name of Exxon, Esso or Mobil, this oil company has done more than any other to sabotage international action on climate change," said Greenpeace climate campaigner Benedict Southworth.

"Esso backed the Bush Administration with massive political contributions and spent more than even Enron on lobbying the White House.

Last year the US walked away from the only international agreement to address climate change - the Kyoto Protocol. President Bush instead came up a domestic, voluntary scheme that would increase greenhouse emissions by 36 percent. That policy was effectively written by Esso."

Climate change is recognised as a serious problem by thousands of the world's leading scientists and most governments. Over the next century, a warming of just a few degrees will lead to sea level rise, chaotic weather patterns, agricultural loss and spread of disease.

"Esso pursues its profits at the expense of human lives and livelihoods, ignoring warnings from the world's leading scientists that climate change is already happening and will get worse," said Southworth.

"People are worried about climate change and angry with the Esso Bush alliance that is blocking action. Esso must be stopped and that's why we are here today."