Greenpeace Unveils Global Campaign Challenging Olympic Polluter Coca-Cola

Media release - June 1, 2000
Greenpeace today unveiled a global Internet campaign challenging Olympic sponsor Coca-Cola for undermining the Environmental Guidelines of the Sydney 2000 Games and for its worldwide use of global warming hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) gases. The campaign features polar bears, the icon Coca-Cola uses to sell billions of drinks. Ironically, scientific studies show Arctic polar bears are under threat of starvation due to climate change.1

The CokeSpotlight Web site, produced in conjunction with Canadian-based Internet activist organization Adbusters, enables people around the world to campaign with Greenpeace to change Coca-Cola's policy on HFC refrigeration. www.cokespotlight.org provides a comprehensive campaign kit including downloadable stickers, posters, postcards and e-mail images to lobby Coca-Cola directly.

"Coca-Cola has had seven years to take the initiative and place environmentally friendly refrigeration at the Olympic site in line with the Environmental Guidelines," said Greenpeace Olympics campaigner, Corin Millais.

"Instead, Coca-Cola will continue its polluting practice of using HFC and undermining the Green Games. Coca-Cola's global refrigerant policy is intensifying the global climate crisis."

At the Olympic site Coca-Cola will have 1,700 refrigerators that run on global warming HFC gases and only 100 Greenfreeze coolers that comply with Sydney's Environmental Guidelines. This means that HFC greenhouse gases will cool over 10 million Coca-Cola drinks during the Sydney Olympics - the world's first "Green Games."

HFCs are one of the most potent greenhouse gases ever invented. On average over 20 years, one ton of HFCs causes 3,300 times more climate change destruction than one ton of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. In 1997 the United Nations Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change was extended to include HFCs.

Natural refrigeration systems, known as "Greenfreeze," are commercially available and can be used instead of HFCs. There is a wide range of commercially available, cost-effective Greenfreeze systems available for supermarkets, pubs, restaurants, offices, ice-cream and drinks chillers, freezer cabinets and air conditioning.

Internationally, Greenpeace offices will be calling on supporters and the public to join it in its campaign to pressure Coca-Cola for a worldwide HFC phaseout.

"Sydney's Green Games are the perfect opportunity for Coca-Cola to show its commitment to protecting the environment," said Millais. "Coke sells more than 700,000 drinks every minute around the world so it has real potential to clean up the refrigeration market worldwide.

"Coca-Cola is a dirty Olympic sponsor while it persists in using HFCs. The CokeSpotlight Web site enables the public to join with Greenpeace in calling for Coca-Cola to show true leadership. If Coke changes its global policy and practice of HFC use then the environment and all of us, including polar bears, will be the real gold medal winners."

Read the Greenpeace report, "Green Olympics, Dirty Sponsors: How McDonald's and Coca-Cola's global HFC pollution is undermining the world's first Green Games at the Sydney Olympics."

Notes: 1 A Canadian Wildlife Service study, by polar bear scientists Ian Stirling, Nicholas J. Lunn and John Iacozza, found that the bears' main food source, ringed seals which live on the ice of Hudson Bay, are becoming less accessible because of a shorter ice season. Building on a past NASA study which found a 2.9 percent decline per decade in total Arctic sea ice extent over the last 20 years, the new Canadian study further concludes that the sea ice season in western Hudson Bay has been reduced by about three weeks over the same period. The study says that, as a result of the reduction in sea ice, polar bears have less time to hunt and are returning to land in poorer condition. Weight for both male and female polar bears is declining and female bears are having fewer cubs. Although significant population decline has not yet begun, this is inevitable if the trends continue.