How We Shut Down the World’s Largest Corporation

By Tooker Gomberg, Toronto, Canada.

Cyclists take action to demonstrate the need to reduce personal reliance on fossil fuels.

Nobody expected it to be this easy. It just took 40 or so cyclists to converge on an Esso gas station and before we knew it our bike-in had shut them down.

On a hot and smoggy Monday July 30, a dozen Toronto cyclists joined thirty or so cyclists from the Climate Change Caravan (, a group of cyclists pedaling across Canada to educate Canadians about the climate crisis, and to encourage Canadians to take action to reduce their personal reliance on fossil fuels.

At the Esso at Dundas and Church we blockaded the station’s exits and entrances with a long line of bikes, and handed out leaflets urging motorists to join the international boycott of Esso.

If you’re wondering why so little progress is being made to fight the climate crisis, look no further than the largest corporation on the planet — ExxonMobil, which wholly owns Esso in Canada. ExxonMobil was a major contributor to George W. Bush’s election campaign, and without doubt influenced Bush’s rejection of the Kyoto climate treaty. And while the rest of the world looks for ways to reverse global warming, this year Esso plans to spend $7.9 billion looking for new oil, with not a penny for renewables.

“If you need to buy gasoline, please buy it at another gas company, for the earth, and for our grandchildren” we said to motorists, as we handed them a leaflet.

The vast majority of drivers were sympathetic and drove off to our wild applause. The man in the black Mercedes convertible was unimpressed. “You did nothing to stop the bombing of Iraq for oil” he said, not knowing that some of us were out protesting then too.

The grey haired man in the ancient, finned Cadillac nosed through the bike-in. “Do you really think this is going to change anything?” he asked. “This is how change happens in society” we responded. After some discussion we shook hands amicably as he agreed to consider what we were saying and read our literature.

It took an hour before the boys in blue showed up in force: four police cars, an unmarked car, and a handfull of bicycle cops. At least one police car driver refused to turn off his idling engine, fumigating the protestors. “Is this bothering you, too?” menacingly asked as he loomed over a protestor.

But they allowed the protest to continue, as long as cyclists didn’t aggressively prevent motorists from entering the station. After an hour and forty minutes and hundreds of leaflets distributed, we had made our point and pedalled off into the night. Over congratulatory beers we promised to do it all again sometime soon.