Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Unilever Earn Joint Award for Climate Leadership

Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Unilever Earn Joint Award for Climate Leadership

In recognition for their leadership in developing innovative ways to combat global warming, The Coca-Cola Company, McDonald's, and Unilever will share a U.S. EPA Climate Protection Award for their joint efforts in promoting the development of environmentally friendly commercial refrigeration technology. Other corporate winners of the award include Cinergy, Johnson Controls, 3M, and United Technologies Corporation.

"The Coca-Cola Company, McDonald's, and Unilever show what leadership and ingenuity can do in helping to protect our global environment," said Kathleen Hogan, the EPA's director of the Climate Protection Partnerships Division.

Working closely with suppliers, the three companies, who between them operate 12 million coolers and freezers, have been developing, testing and deploying HFC-free refrigeration technologies that reduce the global warming impact and energy usage of their commercial equipment. These efforts have been seen as a significant contribution to the protection of the environment not only by the U.S. EPA but also by organizations such as Greenpeace and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) are gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning equipment and are considered global warming pollutants, trapping the sun's heat in the atmosphere. While debate exists over specific projections for HFC emissions contribution to global climate change in 2050, virtually all of the research projects an increase. If current trends were to continue in the industry, HFC's overall contribution to global warming pollution would increase from 1.5% today to somewhere between 2%-3% and 8.6% by 2050.

"The efforts being made by Coca-Cola, McDonald's, and Unilever mark a significant contribution in the fight to stop global warming," said John Passacantando, Greenpeace executive director. "Their commitment shows that some U.S. corporations understand the urgency of global warming and are taking action now. While we welcome the EPA's recognition of these advances in using less harmful refrigerants, we challenge other companies to follow their lead; they cannot do it alone."

As part of this initiative the three companies hosted an international "Refrigerants, Naturally" conference in 2004 that for the first time brought together the food and drink industry, its supply chain, international and non-governmental organizations to discuss HFC-free refrigeration solutions. At the conference the companies showcased progress made to date and recommitted themselves to an energy-efficient, HFC-free future. Coca-Cola, McDonald's, and Unilever are influencing change in refrigeration technology buying and supplier trends and calling upon other businesses to join their initiative. In addition, all three companies are making considerable investments in research and development of climate-friendly technologies.

"The actions by these multinationals demonstrate the amazing power of the technological innovations and enormous potential of private sector partnerships to contribute to the goals of sustainable development," said Rajendra Shende, UNEP.

More information about this year's award winners is available online.