During the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP21) climate negotiations in Paris, which occur Nov. 30 through Dec. 11, Coca-Cola Journey will publish a series of articles covering relevant topics across our business and provide updates of our participation in events connected to the climate negotiations.
Every year that Coca-Cola attends a COP, we bring hope: hope for collaboration toward a greater world for future generations. In light of recent events, we’ll be packing more hope than originally planned. And I can’t think of a better place to be right now, hopeful, than Paris—a city that continues to shine.
While recent events will be top of mind, an expected 50,000 people—including 25,000 official delegates from government, intergovernmental organizations, UN agencies, NGOs and civil society—are gathering to talk about our planet’s future. Together, we aim to work toward a universal agreement on climate.
Anticipation is that business will have a strong showing and inspire governments to greater ambition. We intend to be part of that movement. In addition to our ongoing climate work, we have committed to two climate leadership initiatives set through Climate Disclosure Project (CDP) and We Mean Business. They are to reduce short-lived climate pollutant emissions and to participate in the low-carbon technology partnerships initiative.
Our Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent also signed the Food and Beverage Leadership Statement on Climate Change. Uniting global food companies on climate action, the Ceres-coordinated statement pledges accelerated industry action to address climate impacts and urges world leaders to forge a robust international agreement at COP21. And, earlier this year, we joined the White House-initiated American Business Act on Climate Pledge to demonstrate our “support for action on climate change and the conclusion of a climate change agreement in Paris that takes a strong step forward toward a low-carbon, sustainable future.”
We’re proud to lend our steadfast support to these initiatives and commitments; however, they are far from our first directed at helping achieve a low-carbon and resilient world.
At Coca-Cola, we are integrating sustainability into every aspect of our business and have embraced a value chain approach to do so. Our bottling partners, suppliers, distributors, retailers, customers and the communities, in the more than 200 countries and territories where we operate, help us grow our business and continually improve our sustainability performance.
When it comes to climate, we are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across our entire value chain by making comprehensive changes in our manufacturing processes, packaging formats, delivery fleet, refrigeration equipment and ingredient sourcing—all contributing to our goal to reduce the carbon footprint of the “drink in your hand” by 25 percent by 2020.
Collaborating with government and civil society on energy efficiency and climate protection measures, we’ve realized promising progress. We have deployed 1.7 million HFC-free coolers globally, which reduce our CO2 impact by approximately 9 million metric tons over 10 years; incorporated more than 5.6 million intelligent energy management devices in our refrigeration equipment, reducing consumer electricity consumption (saving them an estimated $400 million annually) and delivering emissions reduction of approximately 3.1 million metric tons per year; improved the energy efficiency of our global manufacturing operations by 21 percent since 2004; and reduced CO2 emissions in our plants in developed countries by 13 percent over the past decade. Learn more.
Our climate investments and progress are important on many levels but ultimately they are supported by a particular concern—the impact of climate change on water and food availability.
Water is the main ingredient in the majority of our products, and vital to our manufacturing processes and the cultivation of our agricultural ingredients. Safe, accessible water is also essential to the health of people and communities, critical to ecosystems and indispensable for economic prosperity, all things our business requires.
Climate change could exacerbate water scarcity or reduce water quality in certain regions, and as a company that operates across the world in diverse environments, that is a potential reality we must work to adjust. Our water stewardship efforts are helping address these concerns.
Increasingly, we are addressing water stewardship in the context of the “water-food-energy nexus,” a defining sustainability challenge of the future. The relation of the three and their interdependences can no longer be ignored in a world of growing populations, rising incomes, urbanization and climate change.
A primary focus area for us is to not only to have integrated planning but also an ever increasing focus on golden triangle partnerships. Just like there is a great interdependency between resources, there is a great interdependency between the different actors—NGOs, governments and business.
When it comes to global challenges, we can achieve far more together than working alone. We need to continue to work on resolving global challenges together, which of course is why we all have joined the road to Paris. Ultimately, because we have hope, we are here.
April Crow is senior director of Environment and Sustainability at The Coca-Cola Company.
Read our entire series of COP21 articles.