Ask and Ye Shall Receive: Companies Answer Pleas to Curb Global Warming

Feature story - May 4, 2005
The 2000 Sydney Olympics made for some memorable moments. Cathy Freeman brought home gold for Australia - the first Aboriginal Olympian to do so. Ian Thorpe, nicknamed "the Thorpedo," broke his own world record to win the 400m freestyle. American Marion Jones became the first woman to win five athletic medals in the same Olympics. What's also noteworthy about the 2000 Olympic games, is that it was the first ever "Green Olympics." It was the perfect opportunity to convince Coca-Cola, Unilever and McDonald's to switch to environmentally-friendly refrigeration policies. You joined our call to demand change, and together we won. Now, almost five years later, the EPA is applauding their improved practices.

Our "CokeSpotlight" campaign protested the use of HFCs in refrigeration by Olympics sponsor Coca-Cola.

We called on the global corporations to scrap the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) refrigeration.  HFCs are one of the most potent greenhouse gases ever invented.  According to a report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), HFCs contribute more to global warming than originally thought.  Natural refrigeration systems, known as "Greenfreeze," are commercially available and can be used instead of HFCs.

Coca-Cola quickly agreed to phase out the use of HFCs in refrigeration by the start of the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. It promised to expand its research into refrigeration alternatives and insist that suppliers announce specific time schedules to use only HFC-free refrigeration in all new cold drink equipment by 2004.  McDonald's and Unilever soon followed suit.

In June 2004, the corporations' commitment to promote innovative ways to fight global warming was strengthened at the "Refrigerants Naturally" conference held in Belgium.  The three powerhouses showcased new refrigeration technologies that are viable, efficient and reliable.  They called on others in the food and drink industry to join their initiative.

Greenpeace Executive Director, Gerd Leipold, commended the Coca-Cola, Unilever and McDonald's alliance at the Refrigerants Naturally conference.  He said their good example should be "a wake-up" call to governments and competitive businesses around the world.  Gerd went on to say that HFCs are a "disaster and a scandal," and that without government action "the planet will be at the mercy of individual corporate whims and greed."

On May 4, 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency drove the point home by awarding the companies the Climate Protection Award for their leadership in developing technologies that reduce the global warming impact and energy usage of commercial refrigeration equipment.

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