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.