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Esso (Exxon) Boycott frightens Friedman

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  • Jym Dyer
    =v= Today s _New_York_Times_ has an opinion piece by that smug neocon, Thomas Friedman: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/06/01/opinion/01FRIE.html Looks like he s
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1 3:57 PM
      =v= Today's _New_York_Times_ has an opinion piece by that smug
      neocon, Thomas Friedman:


      Looks like he's running scared from the Esso Boycott in England.
      Something we could learn from.

      A Tiger by the Tail

      And now for a wild prediction. Within 12 months President Bush,
      Vice President Dick Cheney and all their backers in the oil
      industry will be begging -- begging -- to revive the Kyoto
      protocol on climate change, the accord Mr. Bush yanked America
      out of after taking office.

      Why, you ask? Well, look what's happening in England. A group
      of celebrities there have joined with environmentalists to
      launch a boycott against Exxon Mobil gas stations, which in
      Europe go by the name Esso. Bianca Jagger, the pop star Annie
      Lennox and Anita Rodrick, founder of the Body Shop chain, helped
      launch the boycott because, as Ms. Jagger said, ``This is a way
      to tell Esso that it's not right for them to be claiming that
      there is no connection between CO2 emissions and climate

      People connected with Exxon reportedly contributed more than
      $1 million to the Bush campaign. Exxon is a key supporter
      of research and advertisements that try to cast doubt on the
      seriousness of global warming and its link to fossil fuel
      emissions. Exxon was a big backer of President Bush's decision
      to pull the U.S. out of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which called
      for industrialized nations to steadily reduce their carbon
      dioxide emissions. Exxon is also a major force behind the
      Global Climate Coalition, a business lobby that opposed Kyoto.

      The ``Stop Esso Campaign'' is asking British drivers to shun
      Esso stations until the company supports Kyoto (see
      http://www.stopesso.com/ ). The campaign recently spread to
      France. What's funny is that probably none of this would have
      happened had Mr. Bush not bowed to the oil companies and pulled
      the U.S. out of Kyoto. That may turn out to be his greatest
      gift to environmentalism.

      You see, as long as everyone was discussing how to implement
      Kyoto, no one wanted to take any radical steps. Governments
      could say they were working on the problem, but that
      negotiations were hard. Corporations could mumble nice words
      about environmentalism, but not worry anything serious was going
      to happen. And environmentalists could feel their cause was
      being advanced, even though implementation was far off.

      ``As long as Kyoto was there, everyone could avoid real
      accountability and pretend that something was happening,'' says
      Paul Gilding, the former head of Greenpeace and now chairman of
      Ecos, one of Australia's leading environmental consulting firms.
      ``But now George Bush, by trashing Kyoto, has blown everyone's
      cover. If you care about the environment you can't pretend
      anymore. Emissions are increasing, the climate is changing and
      people can now see for themselves that the world is fiddling
      while Rome burns.''

      The result: Environmentalists refuse to sit on their hands
      anymore. [About time!! --Jym] Instead, the smart ones are
      mobilizing consumers to fight multinational polluters on their
      own ground. You have to admire it. It's so Republican -- using
      the free market.

      If I were Exxon, I would be worried -- especially when U.S.
      college students come back to campus in the fall. Remember
      Monsanto? It was going to sell genetically modified food to
      Europeans. But environmentalists in Europe -- worried, rightly
      or wrongly, about the safety of what they were eating --
      mobilized the weakest link in the value chain: consumers.
      [See how Friedman's got his right-wing knickers in a knot over
      this inconvenient problem of uncompliant customers? --Jym]
      Consumers demanded ``G.M.O.-free'' food. So supermarkets
      demanded it from their suppliers, suppliers demanded it from
      farmers and farmers demanded it from Monsanto. Goodbye,

      This is real globalization activism. ``The smart activists are
      now saying, `O.K., you want to play markets -- let's play,'''
      says Mr. Gilding. They don't waste time throwing stones or
      lobbying governments. That takes forever and can easily be
      counter-lobbied by corporations. No, no, no. They start with
      consumers at the pump, get them to pressure the gas stations,
      get the station owners to pressure the companies and the
      companies to pressure governments. After all, consumers do have
      choices where they buy their gas, and there are differences now.
      Shell and BP-Amoco (which is also the world's biggest solar
      company) [True on paper, but meaningless in terms of what's
      being innovated and implemented in that sector. --Jym] both
      withdrew from the oil industry lobby that has been dismissing
      climate change.

      What Mr. Bush did in trashing Kyoto was to leave serious
      environmental activists with nowhere else to turn but the
      market. The smart ones get it. You will be hearing from them
      soon -- at a gas station near you.
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