Lifetime Achievement Award

It’s the biggie 😬

Here we bestow our prestigious Polluter of the Year Award acknowledging commitment to screwing communities and ecosystems in the UK and across the globe 🔥🤑🏆

Only the most accomplished at carbon spewing, ecosystem polluting and community destroying are considered!

Our Nominees

Click the drop down text for more info


So where do we start with ExxonMobil, one of the most obviously abominable companies in the world.


We shall start in Scotland and focus first on the Mossmorran facility in Fife, which ExxonMobil operates in collaboration with Shell.  Exxon are responsible for one part of the facility – The Fife Ethylene Plant – which over 2018 stood as the 3rd largest industrial emitter in Scotland, emitting a staggering 892,964 tons of carbon dioxide. 

Now, the ExxonMobil operated plant is temporarily closed following what appear to be two explosions in their boilers, which for the umpteenth time, inflicted the infamous Mossmorran flare upon the community. The plant has released into the community a list of pollutants longer than your arm, leading to reports of numerous ill-health effects.

Any serious regulatory response – or even investigation into these reported health effects – has not been forthcoming from the Scottish Government. The pressure on Mossmorran will continue from the irrepressible Mossmorran Action Group and from Climate Camp Scotland, which chose Mossmorran as their 2020 target, before the camp was delayed due to Coronavirus. 

The North Sea

ExxonMobil have been major players in the North Sea since its inception as an extraction zone and according to their own website they produce 80,000 barrels of oil and 441 million cubic feet of gas per day. Their North Sea ventures in the UK have historically operated under a partnership with, you guessed it, Shell. 

However, like a lot of ‘traditional’ polluters, ExxonMobil are making noises about selling off their North Sea assets; not out of any environmental concern, but rather because they have extracted all the easy oil that lends itself to big profits. ExxonMobil’s next moves are towards places like the USA and Guyana, whilst Private Equity firms purchase North Sea assets.

Merchants of Doubt (and evil)

Exxon are the world’s second largest publicly-traded oil and gas company and are amongst the top five companies most responsible for causing climate change. 

Documents unearthed from 1968 show that Exxon and Mobil (they are now incorporated as ExxonMobil) knew about the effect of atmospheric C02 in causing climate change. But instead of acting in accordance with this information, Exxon facilitated a wave of climate denial, casting doubt over the science of climate change and stalling any meaningful action at at a time when it was so desperately needed. This led to the #ExxonKnew campaign, which, of course, ExxonMobil are trying to cast doubt on.  


A Global Polluter

Royal Dutch Shell weighs in at number seven on the list of historical carbon emissions, possessing a rap sheet any evil overlord would be proud of. This is despite condescending PR campaigns designed to convince you otherwise;  They are currently being sued by FoE Netherlands for failing to match the Paris agreement. Perhaps this is all unsurprising behaviour from a company that knowingly suppressed knowledge of climate breakdown. 

Beyond climate violations, Shell, of course, are involved in (accused) human rights violations. Most notably, in over 20 years in the Niger Delta over 1.89 million barrels of oil were spilled which Shell never paid to clean up. They continue to deny responsibility for the spill. Shell are widely thought to have colluded with the Nigerian government in the execution of nine indigenous protest leaders, who were protesting against Shell activities in the region. In November 2020, it was the 25th anniversary of their murder. The Niger Delta is now one of the most polluted places on Earth, and the United Nations Environment Programme has said it could take up to 30 years to clean up the pollution that Shell and other oil companies have caused.

Ken Saro Wiwa, one of the Ogoni Nine. Rest in Power. Source: Wikipedia.


As well as those particular crimes, Shell have had to settle with the US Government for bribing foreign officials in Nigeria and were sued by the Nigerian Government, but the case was not entertained at a UK court. Conveniently, Shell have in the past lobbied against laws that allow companies to be sued for human rights breaches in other countries.


A Scottish Polluter

Now, whilst Shell have taken a financial hit during Coronavirus, the public purse may not notice as Shell avoids tax in the UK. In Scotland, their activities extend to three places in particular: the Mossmorran facility in Fife, the North Sea and the St Fergus Gas Terminal in Peterhead. 

Mossmorran is co-operated by one of the most villainous duos in existence: Shell and ExxonMobil. Shell operates the Natural Gas Liquid Plant within the facility, separating a mix of gas liquids, received from Peterhead, before shipping them off to international markets for products such as plastics, pharmaceuticals, paints and detergents.

The plant, and its infamous flare, has caused plenty of concern and is subject of a concerted campaign by the Mossmorran Action Group. Residents have reported a host of negative impacts from the plant, such as headaches, breathing difficulties, anxiety and sleep disturbance, to name a few. The site alone emitted a staggering 892,964 tonnes of CO2 in 2018, making it the 3rd largest emitter in Scotland. This plant was originally designed to produce 500,000 tonnes of ethylene every year but now produces 830,000 tonnes annually, raising safety concerns.  In 2001, then shadow health minister Nicola Sturgeon promised a public probe into Mossmorran. No probe has occurred. Mossmorran was also chosen as the target for Climate Camp Scotland before the camp was postponed until 2021 due to Covid-19.

Shell operates the Natural Gas Liquid Plant within the facility, separating a mix of gas liquids, received from Peterhead near Aberdeen, before shipping them off to international markets. They were fined £40,000 by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) after a “metering error” at the plant underestimated the amount of propane gas emitted to the environment in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In May 2020 SEPA confirmed that it was seeking a prosecution following 6 days of flaring at the site. October this year saw another bout of flaring, estimated to have emitted up to 13,800 tonnes of CO2. . 

Nicola Sturgeon (centre), Aberdeen Council representatives and Shell Director Steve Phimister (first on left) celebrate the opening of a new Innovation Hub at the Oil & Gas Technology Centre, 2017

Their solution to the climate crisis is to offset their carbon emissions, rather than reduce. They have paid the Scottish Government’s agency Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) £5 million over 5 years to plant or regenerate trees. Senior FLS staff have said themselves this is not enough, and they have to be reducing the use of fossil fuels. There’s also a risk the offsetting data may be counted twice, both by Shell and the Scottish Government.

In the North Sea, Shell have historically teamed up with their partner-in-crime, ExxonMobil, in a 50/50 joint venture scheme. Both partners appear keen to reduce their presence in the North Sea, as all the “easy” oil has been extracted. 

Shell have recently been taken to task by Greenpeace for dumping tons of waste in the North Sea – not for the first time, some of us may remember. Extinction Rebellion Scotland and Greenpeace have staged bold actions on oil rigs, which has led Shell to express agreement with activists’ desire for change, whilst also filing protest-blocking injunctions against said activists. 

In December 2019, Shell obtained a court order to ban climate protests on their North Sea oil rigs. Two months earlier, Greenpeace had protested on Shell’s ‘Brent’ platform, accusing them of going against international agreements. Shell want to leave three legs of the Brent platform  remaining once it’s been decommissioned, because the safety risks of removal would outweigh any “minimum environmental benefit”. This has also been objected to by the governments of Germany *and* the Netherlands. Greenpeace report 11,000 tonnes of oil, from 64 *huge* oil cells, could end up in the sea.  

A Machiavellian Polluter

Okay, so what do you do if you’re a major multinational, doing criminal activities that have in the past been disasters for your public image? A cynic may try to present a good image for the public and government, and downplay the bad stuff. Or as Shell chair Chad Holliday says: we need to give them lots of reasons to trust us and no reasons to distrust us.” 

Shell work pretty hard at infiltrating as many areas of public life as they can get away with. Here’s but a few examples: 

  • A board member of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) –  the same SEPA that are supposed to regulate their bad behaviour at Mossmorran – still holds shares in Shell, and worked with Shell as a Senior Leader.
  • They contribute to the Net Zero strategy of the Committee on Climate Change – the supposed UK Government independent advisory board
  • They co-chair the UK Government’s Hydrogen Advisory Council, alongside Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng
  • As documented on our very own Polluter Watch, they have quite an influence over the UN Climate talks, even bragging about writing a very corporate friendly part of the Paris Agreement!
  • They are “environmental and social partners” for groups such as The Nature Conservancy, Earthwatch and The UN Development Programme. Shame on you.
  • They sponsor cultural institutions such as The National Gallery. Well, until 2018, that is, when hard campaigning by groups like Culture Unstained ended the sponsorship deal. 
  • Loads of misleading adverts!
  • Take up space at many seemingly climate-oriented events, allowing Shell to position themselves as “part of the solution” 
  • Continual lobbying of the EU to ensure that items that suit their agenda become part of the energy transition, as opposed to decarbonisation.   
  • They are the principal sponsor of the Oil & Gas UK Awards
  • They are a funder of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hydrogen – chaired by Jacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar, and Vice-Chair is Richard Thomson, SNP MP for Gordon.

It’s cynical, but it works. Even some environmentalists view Shell as sympathetic to the climate movement. But this is very much part of Shell’s PR strategy. Being a Trumpian-style climate denier (in public) is bad optics in a world that knows climate breakdown is real. It is a deadly case of style over substance from what is basically a criminal enterprise. Shell love a good slogan, but in terms of slogans, we far prefer that of Shell Must Fall: “It’s time to make Shell history”.

BAE Systems

BAE Systems is a British multinational corporation which operates as Europe’s biggest defence contractor, and is amongst the world’s largest arms dealers. Shamefully, they are the UK’s largest manufacturer, with an astounding 98% of BAE’s total sales originating from military related products in 2017. Registered in the City of Westminster, a tax haven in the centre of London, the corporation generated its highest ever profits in 2019 at £1.532 billion (Preliminary Results 2019). As of 2019, significant shareholders in BAE included other polluting financiers such as BlackRock (5.00%), Capital Group Companies (10.11%) and Barclays (3.98%)


BAE originated from the aircraft industry, emerging through consolidation of various British aircraft manufacturers following World War II. Currently, however, their primary revenue comes from selling defence, security and aerospace products to some of the world’s most repressive and interventionist regimes. This includes an ‘involvement’ in nuclear weapons operation, providing ‘logistics, systems, and readiness support for the US Navy Trident and US Air Force Minuteman missiles programmes’. The US military, lest we forget, are one of the biggest polluters in the world, with a CO2 footprint larger than countries such as Morocco, Peru and Sweden. 

BAE are also one of the Top 100 suppliers to the UK’s Ministry of Defence, although they currently sell more arms to the US military – indeed, even one of its subsidiaries is now the 6th largest supplier to the US Department of Defence. Other important markets for its heinous products include Australia and India. In particular, it is worth highlighting BAE’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, its’ third largest customer. Saudi Arabia has been involved in a long-standing genocidal intervention in Yemen, with its bombing campaign recording over 100,000 deaths. BAE have supplied £15 billion worth of arms to the Saudi Government over the course of the five year conflict – with some of the 72 fighter jets it sold being used ‘to bomb Red Cross and MSF hospitals in Yemen’.

Getting away with murder

So how do they get away with it? How do politicians in the UK continually sign off on outright murder? Notwithstanding ruptured moral compasses within our political class, BAE Systems gets away with it by, as Former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook put it, having ‘the key to the garden door to number 10’; employing lobbying firm Portland PR – with staff from the upper echelons of the Conservative and Labour parties – to dazzle and cajole government. 

And it should come as no surprise to learn that BAE Systems have had other non-war related controversies over the years, including hiring a private security firm to investigate activists in the Campaign Against the Arms Trade

BAE in Scotland

Sadly our own Scottish pension funds, including the Strathclyde Pension Fund, invest in BAE (as well as other arms dealers).  Whilst they make the tiresome – and now legally irrelevant – argument that this allows them to engage with these companies and therefore influence them for the better, other investors such as the Norwegian government’s pension fund challenging this narrative, having excluded BAE from their investment portfolio ‘because they develop and/or produce central components for nuclear weapons’. A very sensible step indeed!

BAE Systems ship building yard at Govan waterfront on the River Clyde, Glasgow

BAE occupy two of Glasgow’s last shipyards located in Scotstoun and Govan. In 2015, the company greenlit a £100 million expansion of these facilities. There, they are assembling the Royal Navy’s next generation Type 26 Frigates, including HMS Glasgow currently being built at its Govan facility.



INEOS is a multinational chemicals company, owned by infamous tax dodger Jim Ratcliffe: Brexiteer and UK’s 5th richest person living the wine swilling life in Monaco. It also happens to be Scotland’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, with an article by The Ferret highlighting a SEPA report, which stated that INEOS’s ‘Petroineos oil refinery at Grangemouth emitted 1.6 million tonnes of the gas’. An anocrym of the rather glamorous ‘Inspec Ethylene Oxide Specialities’, INEOS was established in 1998 and has expanded to extract and supply many chemical products, including ammonia, sulphur dioxide, and PVC compounds. Petrochemicals are central to its operation, including ethanol, biodiesels and most prominently and controversially, natural gas. In particular, INEOS aggressive activities in the fracked gas sector, have wreaked devastation on local communities, polluting water sources and causing tremors. This, along with their arrogant and bullying tactics, has galvanised strong opposition from locals and activists, and generated a negative public image – something Ratcliffe is keen to change by pumping money into sport.  

The Battle for Grangemouth

Ineos runs Scotland’s only oil refinery at Grangemouth. The refinery, which processes crude oil from the North Sea into diesel, petrol, kerosene, jet fuel, and LNG was in 2017 Scotland’s largest source of climate emissions, emitting 1.6 million tonnes of Green House Gases. In addition, the Ineos site at Grangemouth also hosts facilities to receive shale gas fracked in the US and a power plant which powers the facilities, which in itself is Scotland’s 4th largest carbon emitter, producing 690,000 tons of carbon in 2017. And worryingly, Ineos has plans to continue to expand the facility over the course of the 2020s. 

INEOS is transporting fracked shale gas from the US to its facility in Grangemouth

The INEOS facility at Grangemouth is unpopular with the local community and has become a focal point for much of Scotland’s anti-fracking movement, spearheaded by local groups such as Friends of the Earth Falkirk and Extinction Rebellion Stirling. While there is currently a moratorium on Fracking in Scotland, drilling licenses are still active and activists remain vigilant. 

A North Sea Numpty

In only five years, INEOS has become a very big player in the exploitation of Oil and Gas reserves in the North Sea. Their purchase of Danish company Dong Energy’s entire North Sea Operations in 2017, at a value of $1 billion dollars, included ownership of ‘Ormen Lange, the second largest gas field in Norwegian waters, Laggan-Tormore, a new gas field west of Shetland, and oil and gas hubs in Denmark’. On sealing the deal, Henrik Poulsen, CEO of DONG Energy, said ‘We have been actively working to get the best transaction by selling the business as a whole to ensure its long-term development and, with INEOS, we have obtained just that.’ A rather cynical statement for a company that touts its green credentials no? 

INEOS are committed to ‘our Oil & Gas business and supports the Government’s strategy to maximise economic recovery of gas from the North Sea’. Indeed, in 2018 they sought to extend the lifespan of their oil and gas investments in the North Sea as far as possible, including a $80m investment into a new pipeline and sub-sea equipment for the Clipper South field in the Southern North Sea. Furthermore, in 2019 as reported in Energy Voice, ‘Ineos announced it was investing £500 million to extend the life of the Forties Pipeline System by “at least 20 years” in a move hailed by industry leaders as a show of faith in the North Sea’s future.

Offensive PR

Perhaps aware of their faltering public image, particularly in relation to their destructive UK fracking operations, INEOS has initiated a PR offensive, involving itself in all things sporty. For a company that has been linked to a third of industrial pollution in Scotland, you may think that sponsoring The Daily Mile campaign to get school children running regularly is a bit of a wheeze. But it doesn’t stop there for INEOS, Nice Football Club is owned and sponsored by INEOS, the own the rather goofilly named the INEOS Grenadiers (a strong favourites in the Tour de France), as well as the sailing team INEOS Team UK, captained by five-time Olympic medalist Ben Ainslie. 

Rushing to crush dissent – and failing 

While INEOS is brazen in its polluting activities, like many other powerful bullies, it hates to be challenged on its destructive behaviours. In 2017, the company obtained a High Court injunction to prevent activists disrupting its fracking activities. Activists challenged this verdict, but shamefully it was again upheld later in 2017. However, after pursuing the case in the Court of the Appeal, the injunction was declared unlawful and struck down. 


Drax Power Station in Yorkshire has achieved so much environmental destruction with its fossil fuel and tree burning that it’s truly a world-leading polluter and a perfect candidate for the lifetime achievement award!

Let’s delve a little deeper into the murky world of Drax’s tree burning, its links to environmental injustice, and its role in making the climate crisis worse. 

The UK’s biggest power station

Built in the 1970s to burn coal, Drax was the UK’s largest power station by the 1980s and it was converted to burn both coal and wood biomass in 2003. Drax has now switched most of its capacity to burn wood biomass, and since 2015, it has been burning more imported wood than the UK produces every year

“Green” Claims

According to Drax, burning trees for energy is a “renewable” and “sustainable” alternative to fossil fuels because it is assumed that new trees will absorb the emissions produced by felling and burning trees today. 

Drax’s “green” claims don’t end there because it describes itself as the “UK’s largest renewable power generator” and says it isat the forefront of tackling climate change

Drax’s CEO, Will Gardiner, even used his speech at the COP25 Climate Summit in 2019 to announce that it can become the world’s first “carbon negative” power station by 2030 by using Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) technology to capture and store the carbon it emits from burning trees.

What Drax does not mention is its notable achievement of being the UK’s single largest carbon emitter and the world’s biggest tree burner

Much of the wood that it burns comes from the clear-felling of biodiverse forests in the Southern USA, Canada, Estonia and Latvia which are home to many rare and endangered species. Even if new trees are planted, they are usually monoculture plantations which support almost no life.

Climate Catastrophe

Not only is this forest destruction and tree burning a disaster for wildlife, it’s also a climate catastrophe as burning wood is as harmful for the climate as burning coal. 

It will take decades or longer for new trees to grow and absorb the emissions produced by logging and burning forests today and this is time we do not have if we are to keep global temperature rises below 1.5 degrees. 

Drax emitted almost 13 million tonnes of CO2 from burning 7 million tonnes of wood pellets in 2019, yet it receives over £2 million per day in UK renewable subsidies to burn trees. These are subsidies which we have to pay for through a surcharge on our energy bills. 

Far from being a climate solution, Drax’s tree burning is destroying forests, harming wildlife, polluting communities and wasting bill payers’ money on a false solution that is making the climate crisis worse

Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage: a dangerous false solution

Nor does Drax admit that its ambition to “build back better” with “negative emissions technologies” is based upon unproven Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) technology which has so far failed to capture the 365 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year it is designed to do. Even if the technology were made to work in the future, it would lead to even more forest destruction and conversion of land to monoculture tree plantations in order to supply enough trees to burn in power stations. 

This doesn’t stop Drax promoting itself at every opportunity, including regular lobbying meetings with MPs and MSPs, ensuring its Head of Sustainability, Rebecca Heaton, is also a member of the Committee on Climate Change and turning its chimneys blue to celebrate the NHS at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, whilst conveniently ignoring the evidence that the particulates emitted from burning wood are extremely harmful to human health. 

Europe’s biggest fossil gas power station

As if these achievements weren’t enough to make Drax a leading contender for this incredible award, Drax is now planning to increase its emissions even more by building Europe’s largest fossil gas power station. If built, this gas power station will be a disaster for our climate and prevent the UK from meeting our climate commitments. 

With its forest destruction, pollution of communities and climate-wrecking emissions, Drax is a truly deserving nominee for the UK Lifetime Achievement Award.

You can find out more about the devastating impact of Drax’s tree burning on Southern US forests from  Biofuelwatch, Cut Carbon Not Forests and the award-winning documentary, “Burned are trees the new coal?”.


What? BP? Even with their new super-cool CEO?

Well, we don’t believe the (self-declared) hype. BP have, and continue to be, one of the kings of duplicity. Historically, their deviousness has produced laughable failures – who can forget the botched Beyond Petroleum rebrand? – but other times, they have been so sneaky, so deceptive, that we don’t even notice – such as that time they introduced the term Carbon Footprint into the public lexicon.  

The Coronavirus has been hard on BP, prompting an $18bn write-off of fossil fuel assets and a $14bn loss to boot – all within the second quarter of 2020. Never one to let a crisis go to waste, they announced – with typical fanfare – a new focus on renewables, aiming for a 40% reduction in oil and gas production by 2030. 

This drew praise from some odd quarters for what are at best, insufficient and non-binding announcements. And as is continually the case with BP, when you strip back the PR, the remains are not pretty. The announcement was so loophole laden – sneakily omitting, for example, their stake in fellow polluter Rosneft – that Oil Change International estimates that BP excluded about 46% of their extracted carbon

Of course, they remain vastly committed to oil and gas, showing no signs of scaling back in some of their production hotspots; they remain in the declining North Sea and even their so-called renewable investments are actually just fossil fuel investments. It is perhaps unsurprising that we are not holding our breath. 

BP’s Track Record

Once known as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company as they raided Middle-Eastern resources, BP have made a monumental contribution to the climate crisis, coming in at No.6 in historical carbon emissions. 

Their recent announcements only appear admissible in the context of previous paltry investments in renewables – never over $1bn a year, sometimes far less. Let us bear in mind that when BP were profitable – they had a $10bn profit in 2019, for example – they ignored the climate emergency. 

Rather than “Possibilities Everywhere”, their track record points to abuses and disasters everywhere. To name a few, we can see them colluding with the Indonesian government to exploit and suppress the West Papuan population, fighting and dumping on the Mapuche population in Argentina and supporting abusive regimes in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Mexico. 

They were also responsible for one of the worst environmental disasters in history, as the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, sending nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. No wonder they need a PR machine!

BP were responsible for the Deep Water Horizon oil spil that devastated ecosystems and communities on the Gulf of Mexico

The North Sea

When North Sea oil was discovered, the then energy minister Tony Benn wanted to bring BP’s North Sea assets into public ownership. Hard to imagine that now. His proposals were considered too radical and instead, BP shareholders became the main beneficiaries from the North Sea.

Indeed, BP have been involved in the unforgiving climes of the North Sea ever since people started drilling deep for hydrocarbons. But initially, they had a hard time finding any oil and gas in the North Sea. It is strange to think that at one time BP were doubting the North Sea’s viability, given the breadth of resources they would eventually extract. BP ended up not being the first to discover commercially viable oil, that ‘honour’ fell to two American companies: ominous -sounding InterDrill who discovered it in Norwegian territory; and Amoco, who discovered it in the UK. Later on, BP later acquired Amoco, and their assets in the process. 

BP got in on the game when North Sea oil, once discovered, was easier to extract and provided very profitable returns. Their involvement in the North Sea is not quite as dominant as it once was – although contrary to their climate posturing, they sit on the North Sea’s largest oilfield and continue to obtain new exploration contracts. 

Alongside the actual capital from the North Sea, BP have been afforded lots of political capital too. Such is that power, BP can straight-facedly partner with Aberdeen City Council to help the city reach ‘net zero’ emissions (a dodgy concept in and of itself). You could not make it up. Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Richard Dixon described this move as like “having a car salesman help you design public transport”. Quite. 

BP lucked out by laws in place holding insignificant penalties, offering no incentive to prioritise environmental and safety harms. The UK Government spending seven times as much investigating North Sea oil leaks from BP’s Clair platform than BP had to fork out in fines, makes a mockery of offshore petroleum regulations. 

Bullshit Everywhere

On the one hand, BP can advocate for a Carbon Tax – again, a modest measure – and on the other, spend $13 million on a campaign against said Carbon Tax. No oil major has done more lobbying since the Paris Agreement. They can do this whilst at the same time projecting a green image out in the public sphere.   

The climate may not care about BP’s image, but BP are aware that without this, their social licence to continue extracting becomes imperilled.  So when Client Earth recently filed a case against BP’s greenwashed “Possibilities Everywhere” campaign, to avoid further embarrassment BP took the campaign down. Bernard Looney then claimed in February 2020 that BP were putting an end to corporate reputation branding, but only a month earlier they were found to be running internal workshops on corporate reputation branding. Sigh. 

Some More Positive News

Okay, so BP reeks of cynicism. But you can find hope in those that resist BP. Here are a few UK highlights:

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