Leading up to and during the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP21) climate negotiations in Paris, which occur Nov. 30 through Dec. 11, Coca-Cola Journey is publishing a series of climate-focused business articles and providing updates of our participation in events connected to the climate negotiations.

As thousands of people have traveled the “Road to Paris” for COP21, Coca-Cola products have been on the road, too—making their way from manufacturing plants to retail shelves. Trucks decorated with favorite brands travel the distance, delivering cherished treats to frequented stores. When our trucks are in sight, they’re not only delivering your products, but working to do so more efficiently.

Coca-Cola is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions across our entire value chain by making comprehensive changes in manufacturing processes, packaging formats, delivery fleet, refrigeration equipment and ingredient sourcing. As part of the work to reduce our carbon footprint, we’re aiming to reduce the greenhouse emissions of our distribution trucking fleet, the source of about 4 percent of value chain emissions.

Our global system fleet, which includes trucks operated by the company and our bottling partners, emitted an estimated 3.7 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2014—a more than 15 percent decrease from our 4.4 million metric tons of fleet emissions in 2013.

A small but growing proportion of Coca-Cola’s fleet of approximately 200,000 delivery trucks is powered with a mix of efficient alternative fuels, including electricity, natural gas, diesel-electric and biodiesel. In North America, Coca-Cola operates a hybrid electric fleet of more than 850 trucks that use about 30 percent less fuel than conventional diesels—the largest such fleet on the continent.

By converting braking energy into supplementary electrical power, these vehicles typically reduce carbon emissions by a third and use less fuel. We’re committed to energy-efficient improvements across our system. Many of the changes we’re making are not only good for the planet but for our business as well.

In 2013, we announced the rollout of 16 first-of-its-kind refrigerated plug-in electric vehicles. These trucks deliver the company's Odwalla® brand beverages in the San Francisco Bay Area. We also began converting newly purchased service vans in the United States to hybrids, with 211 transformed to date and 70 more planned for 2015 deployment. 

Converting to hybrids is helping us improve fuel consumption efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, and at the same time providing upfront savings and reducing maintenance costs, which translate to better management of cost of goods sold. The duel-side benefits are appealing to companies that want to be both responsible environmental stewards and business smart.

Smart fleet moves are being implemented around the world by Coca-Cola. In India, our bottler, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd. has converted 12.5 percent of co-owned trucks to compressed natural gas, significantly reducing exhaust gas emissions, and improving mileage and extending engine life. In Sicily, Italy, Coca-Cola Sibeg has equipped its sales force with 100 electric vehicles, which will be the first full electric sales force in Italy, estimated to reduce carbon emissions by 330 tons a year. And in Latin America, Coca-Cola FEMSA is piloting and analyzing a number of initiatives that include compressed natural gas trucks, diesel-natural gas engines and electric vehicles for the sales force.

Next time you see Coca-Cola fleet on the road, whether in Paris or where you call home, remember they’re driving more than products; they’re striving to drive down fleet emissions, as the company continues to build a business while considering its mark on the planet.

Carlos Pacheco is global energy manager at The Coca-Cola Company

Read our entire series of COP21 articles.