Seeing the good for the trees

Your article “Esso tones down Tree Week sponsorship” (MW November 22) is incorrect and misleading in several important aspects.

Esso’s support for National Tree Week is a community investment initiative. Publicity for Esso was not the motivation for the sponsorship and the fact that the name will not be in the title is of little relevance. Given the success of our &£3m unbranded “Trees of Time and Place” sponsorship, branding of National Tree Week was already under discussion before the Stop Esso campaign began. The company decided not to brand National Tree Week and this decision was supported by the Tree Council. The Stop Esso campaign has contacted the Tree Council as you report but to claim that its approach led to the branding review is untrue.

National Tree Week is the UK’s largest annual tree planting initiative. Over 19 million trees have been planted since its inception and the number of events and participants this year is as high as in previous years. None of the member organisations have pulled out of the event.

The article says that “Esso’s parent company Exxon Mobil was blamed for influencing President Bush’s decision not to ratify the [Kyoto] treaty”. Blaming Esso may be an attractive soundbite, but the facts do not support this allegation. Opposition to Kyoto has been a mainstream view in the US for several years, shared by politicians, businesses, trade unions and consumer groups. Suggestions that contributions from Exxon Mobil influenced the Bush decision are nonsense. Despite being the largest US company, neither political contributions from the company nor its employees are sufficient to rank among the top 150 contributors and the company did not contribute to the Bush election campaign fund.

Esso was recently rated by Lloyd’s Register as “among the best in industry” in integrating environmental management into its business. Sadly such endorsements rarely get reported.

Gordon Sawyer

Esso UK Public Affairs



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