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The Guardian: One-person boycotts don't work

United Kingdom; Mar 01, 2006
I've been boycotting Esso and BP service stations on the basis of their environmental records. However, BP has been advertising its research into less environmentally harmful fuels. Should I believe them and remove them from my boycotting list? Also, while all oil companies are bad, are there others that are so bad I should add them to my list?
* Although many of us automatically think of boycotts when we don't like something a company does, they are not always the best way to influence a company's behaviour. There are two essentials for effectively boycotting a company. First, you must write to them to tell them why you are boycotting them (most people don't do this), and second, you need thousands of people to join you. In terms of Esso there is an organised international boycott, as Esso has played a leading role in denying climate change. There is no organised boycott of BP, so one person boycotting the company won't make any difference.
There is no oil company with a good record on the environment, despite what BP might claim, so if you boycott BP for this reason you might as well boycott them all. Other companies also have bad records. The Burma Campaign UK is campaigning against Total Oil as it is in a business partnership with the military dictatorship in Burma.
Chevron is facing a court case relating to allegations of human rights abuses in Nigeria, and of course Shell has also been under attack for its operations in Nigeria. The list goes on and on.
Mark Farmaner, campaigns manager, Burma Campaign UK, London N1

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