Coca-Cola Commits to Climate-Friendly Refrigerants

by Claudette

December 3, 2009

On the eve of the Copenhagen climate summit, we have some positive news from a US company: today The Coca-Cola Company announced that it will stop using HFCs in their coolers and vending machines.

For those that aren’t familiar with HFCs, they are the worst greenhouse gases you’ve never heard of. They’re used in refrigerators and air conditioners, and the most common one is 1,430 times more powerful at warming the climate than CO2.

Greenpeace has been encouraging companies to move to climate-friendly natural alternatives, like hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide – and Coca-Cola has been listening.

Coca-Cola’s transition to HFC-free refrigeration will reduce the equipment’s direct greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 99 percent. The company and its bottling partners have approximately 10 million coolers and vending machines in place today around the world, and they are responsible for the largest part of Coca-Cola’s total climate impact. As a result of today’s commitment, they’ll reduce emissions by more than 50 million metric tons over the life of the equipment – the same as taking more than 11 million cars off the road for a year.

In addition, since Coca-Cola is such a large global company, its demand for HFC-free technologies will help to accelerate the transition to this type of equipment throughout industry, reducing costs through economies of scale.

This is especially good news as more and more scientific research emphasizes the enormous threat of HFCs. New research by NASA and Purdue shows that HFCs and other “F” gases that contain fluorine are the most effective warming agents out there. And, a recent report by the National Academy of sciences shows that HFCs will be responsible for 28-45% of carbon emissions by 2050 if society reduces carbon dioxide while leaving HFCs unchecked.

Coca-Cola’s announcement demonstrates that phasing out HFCs is a tangible and near-term action that can be taken to protect the climate. Let’s hope other companies – and participants in Copenhagen – are listening.

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