I have a love, hate, (love) relationship with CO2

I love how the fizz dances on my tongue when enjoying an ice-cold Coke. But I hate the build-up of CO2 in our atmosphere and the consequent changes to our planet that may impact the way our children live. But, I also like that we can use CO2 as a refrigerant to cut our emissions as a Company (it’s 1430 times less potent a greenhouse gas than HFC-refrigerants).  

While my job is to lead the Climate Protection efforts for Coca-Cola, I know I don't focus enough on MY personal contribution. I drive a hybrid and make the small changes in my home when I can, but surely I can do more. I understand there was a global movement for people to embrace a "carbon fast" recently during the season of Lent. In this regard, I suppose I'm more of a sinner than a saint. I live a rather typical "American" lifestyle – which on average suggests that I have a bigger carbon footprint than most of the world's population. As a confession, I drive to work four days a week (I telecommute one day), I have air conditioning in my house that stays on several months a year with the Atlanta heat, I eat some sort of meat nearly every day and between myself and my wife, we do a lot of driving in general – mainly shuttling our three kids to their various activities. I’m sure some of you can relate.

But I don't walk around every day embarrassed by my personal carbon emissions. Maybe I should. One of our advisors, Lord Deben, worked for Margaret Thatcher and with her passing this month, I saw him quoted in an article about her climate leadership. He commented that Americans' climate denial is "a sort of hillbilly approach to the world," he said, "[that] I'm afraid is attractive to quite a large portion of the American population." You can read the entire article here.

And for one of the best sustainability speeches I've ever witnessed, see Lord Deben's remarks at the 2011 Southface Visionary Dinner.

Okay, back to the point of this post … what I really want to do is announce that I'm going to try to live a low(er)-carbon lifestyle this week. And by that I mean that I'm going to try to make conscious decisions throughout each day to choose lower carbon options. And through this blog, I'll share with you how it goes -- the successes and the failures (because I'm sure there will be some of both). And hopefully, I’ll make some decisions that I can adopt into my life beyond this week as well.

I realize that even if I could cut my emissions in half, they'd still be higher than many of yours. A colleague who's vegetarian assures me his carbon footprint will always be lower than mine. And he may be right. So let me start with humble appreciation for all that YOU are doing to keep your emissions low; climate change could be worse than it already is. I also invite you to join with me in appreciating the scale of the opportunity I have for improvement. And please wish me luck. You can also give me suggestions on the changes to make through this blog. I may not be able to take them all, but I’m certainly open to the challenge.

I'll get back to you tomorrow with reflections from day 1.

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