Students target Exxon Mobil

A group of students in Manchester take direct action, shutting down a petrol station

How 30 Manchester University students closed down an Esso garage for two
hours on 9th February

Five students used D-locks to attach themselves to bollards and bicycles that were positioned across the entrance and exit of the petrol station in South Manchester. Others held banners and distributed flyers to slow moving rush hour traffic, about the role Exxon Mobil (Esso) has played in denying climate change over the last two decades.

In 2005, Exxon Mobil donated $2.9 million to 39 groups that - according to the Royal Society, Britain's top scientific academy, "have misrepresented the science of climate change, by outright denial of the evidence".

In May 2006, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, one of the groups previously funded by Esso, produced a television advert with the finish line, 'Carbon dioxide- they call it pollution, we call it life.' The advert aired in 14 US cities.

"It's not just a case of targeting one corporate bad boy," said Andy Bowman, a third year Social Anthropology student. "Esso represent something much wider in our culture. They are the world's worst emitter of carbon dioxide, actively promoting fossil fuel consumption, yet also earned £20bn in profit, the largest of any company last year."

Manchester University has seen a flurry of green campaigning recently. 'Climate Change Week' was organised to lead up to the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Friday 2nd February. The week
included a screening of Al Gore's documentary 'An Inconvenient Truth', workshops, and distributing spoof parking tickets to Urban 4x4s. Stencil activists also painted small green feet leading up to the entrances of flight retail shops and a Humvee garage. The large red feet painted leading away from them aimed to warn passers-by as to where they can significantly increase their carbon footprint.

Other People and Planet activists are petitioning the University into employing an Environmental Manager and adopting more sustainable measures in faculty buildings.

The protest at Esso ended when blockaders voluntarily reopened the garage.
No arrests were made.

Robbie Gillett became politically active in 2001 attending the Mayday protests. Since then he’s been involved in anti-war demos, the DSEI arms fair protests and a blockade at Faslane. He is also involved with Plane Stupid.
Photo: Getty
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Theresa May takes early lead in the Conservative leadership race

The first poll of the Tory contest puts the Home Secretary well out in front

Theresa May, the Home Secretary is well ahead among Conservative members according to a new YouGov poll for the Times

She is both the preferred first choice of a plurality of members from an open field (she secures 37 per cent of the vote, with her nearest rival, Boris Johnson, 10 points behind) and roundly trounces Johnson with 55 per cent to 38 per cent. In all other head-to-heads, Johnson wins comfortably.

Although YouGov have a patchy recent record in national contests - they predicted the London mayoral victory but failed to foresee the Conservative majority or the Brexit vote - they are four for four as far as internal party contests are concerned, having accurately predicted both the result and the final vote share of the 2015 and 2010 Labour leadership contests and the 2005 and 2001 Conservative contests. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.