Last week, a small delegation from the Coca-Cola system attended WWF’s The Power of Power Business Summit and Climate Savers Workshop in Mexico City. As an experienced Climate Savers participant, I remain impressed by WWF associates’ depth of knowledge and passion – not just for conservation, but for business-savvy solutions that benefit conservation goals as well.

In addition to the opportunity to connect with WWF colleagues and other Climate Savers member companies from around the globe, the Summit and Workshop covered rich content. Time was dedicated to two key areas of genuine interest to us: renewable energy and value-chain targets. In fact, during the members-only Workshop,  I presented on “Collaborative Approaches to Renewable Energy,” highlighting our work with the Georgia coalition on clean energy, which WWF helped convene, and shared a similar collaborative approach our partner World Resources Institute (WRI) is coordinating in India, while one of our key suppliers, TetraPak, presented their end-to-end value chain target for 2020.

For the Summit, external speakers joined, most notably, Daniel Servitje, CEO from Grupo Bimbo, who not only discussed his company’s climate protection activities but also offered a substantive update on climate science from the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report, released last month, and again informing of the unprecedented rate of increase in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Moreover, we gained an update on the progress of Mexico's climate change law, one of the most ambitious in the world.

In reflection, a key theme of the events that truly resonates is that we (the collective ‘we’ of companies) need to change business as usual thinking and operations. Continuing to focus solely on reducing our own emissions is simply not going to get the job done of decreasing worldwide GHGs. While reducing our own emissions will remain a critical part of our climate protection efforts, we know that more can be accomplished by targeting reductions across the entire product life cycle, which is why I am proud to say our new climate commitment does just that.

For Coca-Cola, more than 90 percent of our carbon footprint falls beyond our fence line. Recognizing that, we are driving collaboration with our suppliers to reduce emissions, expanding our scope to include packaging, ingredients, distribution and refrigeration – categories of which we often aren’t in direct control therefore can be challenging to influence. However, this expansion will enable us to achieve carbon reduction 10 times more significant than if we concentrate on our operations alone. 

During the Summit, we pledged to reduce the carbon footprint of the “drink in your hand” 25 percent below 2010 levels by 2020, a new commitment that will prevent 20 million metric tons of carbon emissions in 2020 and 100 million cumulative between now and then. While this commitment was included in a broader sustainability commitments announcement we made earlier this year, it became official as a Climate Savers target at this event in Mexico.

Commemorating this Climate Savers 2.0 commitment, I accepted a Climate Savers awards plaque from WWF, presented by Manuel Gomez Pena, Director of Sustainability, Walmart Mexico and Central America. It was a proud moment but also a reality solidifying one. This is new frontier. To meet this goal, we will have to work beyond our sphere of control and more through our sphere of influence. We will have to encourage (and sometimes push) others to join us in making choices, changes and commitments that will make a positive difference for our world. As part of a company that has already achieved so much in the sustainability space, I am confident that we can achieve our goal and I am eager to help us rise to the challenge.

Bryan Jacob

Bryan Jacob is Climate Protection Director at The Coca-Cola Company.