US climate stance sparks boycott demands

European Greens, environmentalists, call for consumer action against American firms

The USA's decision to abandon the Kyoto climate protocol is sparking a wave of calls from European environmentalists and Greens for consumers to take revenge on George Bush by boycotting American firms. It remains unclear whether any will get off the ground, though companies are watching the development anxiously.

Leading the charge in favour of economic punishment to be meted out to the USA are Europe's Greens, who sparked a vote in the European Parliament on the issue today. The party asked fellow MEPs to back a resolution calling on European consumers to boycott Exxon, Texaco and Chevron, three US-based oil firms that suspect to have influenced America's policy shift on Kyoto. The resolution was defeated by a margin of over three to one.

Meanwhile, boycott campaigns have been launched by some European environmental groups, such as the UK-based Families Against Bush". "A boycott of sugar from American plantations helped stop the slave trade," the group said today. "This time the quality and existence of billions of lives are ultimately under threat unless effective action is taken."

Europe's larger environmental groups are also examining the options for applying pressure on the US government. Greenpeace today called on America's largest one hundred firms to declare opposition to the Bush administration's announcement or "face the consequences from concerned consumers, institutions and organisation from around the world."

"We've been deluged with requests for campaign action or a boycott," said climate campaigner Stephen Sawyer. "We want to give people a chance to make their views clear - there's a lot of anger out there, a desire to retaliate against Bush." The group says it will gather together a broad range of NGOs to organise a protest campaign after Easter.

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