Companies answer pleas to curb global warming

Feature story - May 5, 2005
When Sydney declared that the 2000 Olympics would be the "Green games" we pointed out that the refrigerants Coca-Cola used to chill their beverage were also warming our planet.

Image from an E-card, part of the Cokespotlight campaign, which successfully changed Coke's policy on climate-killing refrigerants.

So with the good folks at Adbusters, we set up "Cokespotlight," an online action  which generatedmessages from all over the world telling the Coke CEO to go truly greenand phase out the climate-killing chemicals. It worked so fast, wenever got a chance to roll out the banners or stage the confrontationswe'd been planning for the games: a clear victory for online activism.

Now, almost five years later, the US government's EnvironmentalProtection Agency is applauding improved practices by Coca-cola, alongwith Unilever, and McDonalds.

We called on the global corporations to scrap the use ofhydrofluorocarbons (HFC) refrigeration.  HFCs are one of the mostpotent greenhouse gases ever invented.  According to a report bythe International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), HFCs contribute moreto global warming than originally thought.  Natural refrigerationsystems, known as "Greenfreeze," are commercially available and can beused instead of HFCs.

Coca-Cola quickly agreed to phase out the use of HFCs in refrigerationby the start of the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. It promised to expandits research into refrigeration alternatives and insist that suppliersannounce specific time schedules to use only HFC-free refrigeration inall new cold drink equipment by 2004.  McDonald's and Unileversoon followed suit.

In June 2004, the corporations' commitment to promote innovative waysto fight global warming was strengthened at the "RefrigerantsNaturally" conference held in Belgium.  The three powerhousesshowcased new refrigeration technologies that are viable, efficient andreliable.  They called on others in the food and drink industry tojoin their initiative.

Greenpeace Executive Director, Gerd Leipold, commended the Coca-Cola,Unilever and McDonald's alliance at the Refrigerants Naturallyconference.  He said their good example should be "a wake-up" callto governments and competitive businesses around the world.  Gerdwent on to say that HFCs are a "disaster and a scandal," and thatwithout government action "the planet will be at the mercy ofindividual corporate whims and greed."

On May 4, 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency drove the pointhome by awarding the companies the Climate Protection Award for theirleadership in developing technologies that reduce the global warmingimpact and energy usage of commercial refrigeration equipment.

These companies have taken the first step in fighting global warming bydeveloping more climate friendly refrigeration. Now, however, is thetrue test of Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Unilever's commitment toconfronting this issue; we urge them to implement this technology inNorth America, where its use is most important, as quickly as possible.

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