Corporations Honored for Climate, Ozone Protection

WASHINGTON, DC, May 6, 2005 (ENS) - Several of America's largest corporations, two cities and three individuals were honored Wednesday for their efforts to protect the Earth's climate and stratospheric ozone layer.

American Electric Power, 3M, Cinergy, the California Energy Commission, and the cities of Boulder, Colorado, and Syracuse, New York, are among the 25 organizations, companies, individuals, and teams recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for "ingenuity, leadership and public purpose by achieving reductions of ozone depleting and heat-trapping gas emissions."

Earth

The Earth's annual ozone hole over Antarctica is caused by the human emission of refrigerant gases and other chlorinated and brominated gases. (Photo courtesy NASA)
The winners have introduced new and improved technologies that have kept millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions and ozone-depleting substances out of the atmosphere, the agency said.

A partnership among three giant multi-national food and beverage companies to reduce ozone-depleting refrigerants is among those recognized, and the international environmental organization Greenpeace says it prodded the initiative into existence.

Through the McDonald's, Coca-Cola, & Unilever Refrigerants Naturally Partnership, UK and USA, the firms have committed to replace hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) as a refrigerant wherever it is cost-effective to do so. Between them, the three companies operate 12 million coolers and freezers.

They joined with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Greenpeace to promote natural refrigerant technology in the food and drink industry and its supply chain.

Greenpeace says that when Sydney, Australia declared that the 2000 Olympics would be the "Green Games" the environmental organization pointed out that the refrigerants Coca-Cola used to chill their beverages were also warming the planet.

"So with the good folks at Adbusters, we set up "Cokespotlight," an online action which generated messages from all over the world telling the Coke CEO to go truly green and phase out the climate-killing chemicals," Greenpeace said.

"It worked so fast, we never got a chance to roll out the banners or stage the confrontations we'd been planning for the games: a clear victory for online activism," said Greenpeace Executive Director Gerd Leipold.

He commended the Coca-Cola, Unilever and McDonald's alliance, saying their good example should be "a wake-up" call to governments and competitive businesses around the world.

"These companies have taken the first step in fighting global warming by developing more climate friendly refrigeration," said Leipold. "Now, however, is the true test of Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Unilever's commitment to confronting this issue; we urge them to implement this technology in North America, where its use is most important, as quickly as possible."

The technologies under development to replace HFCs include hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, Stirling, thermoacoustic and solar cooling. Tests show that these technologies, while at different stages of commercial availability, are viable, efficient and reliable.

Technologies like hydrocarbon and carbon dioxide are already operating in the marketplace, while others will undergo further development.

"As industry leaders it is our responsibility to invest in the research and development necessary to take us toward an HFC-free, climate-friendly future," said Jeff Seabright, vice president, Environment and Water Resources with Coca-Cola. "We hope that other companies will now join our commitment to sustainable refrigeration. By working together, we can continue to reduce the impact of commercial equipment on the environment."

logo Coca-Cola, the world's largest beverage company, estimates that in 2010 direct indirect greenhouse gas emissions from its new cold drink equipment will be reduced by 700,000 carbon dioxide-equivalent tons. "The 650 HFC-free coolers and vending machines placed by Coca-Cola at the Olympic Games in Athens were 8.5 percent to 17.6 percent more efficient than comparable HFC-refrigerated units in laboratory and field trials," the company said.

An HFC-free McDonald's restaurant in Vejle, Denmark, uses 12 percent less energy, the EPA says.

Unilever placed 15,000 HFC-free freezers in the market by 2004 and will have a further 35,000 in place before June 2005, the company says. Field trials indicate a nine percent energy saving with these freezers, and the reduction in emissions is estimated to be 840 metric tons per year in 2004, rising to about 30,000 tons per year by 2010.

"McDonald's, Unilever and Coca-Cola 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.

Every one of the 25 Climate Protection or Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award awardees has a story to tell. Discover them at: http://www.epa.gov/cppd/awards/climproawards.htm.

In another corporate effort to cool the warming planet, 10 corporations this week pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of EPA's Climate Leaders, a voluntary program that works with companies to measure greenhouse gas emissions and set what the EPA calls "aggressive," long-term emissions reduction goals.

Caterpillar, Frito-Lay, Xerox, Staples, The Bank of America, and the Gap are among the 10, along with the energy companies Exelon, Calpine and Green Mountain Energy.

Since it began in 2002, Climate Leaders has grown to include 68 corporations whose U.S. emissions represent eight percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

To date, 37 of the 68 companies in Climate Leaders have set emissions reduction goals. General Motors and Baxter International have both achieved their 2005 goals more than a year early.

The EPA estimates that the 37 Climate Leaders' greenhouse gas reductions will prevent more than eight million metric tons of carbon emissions equivalent per year - an amount equal to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of five million cars.

For more information about EPA's Climate Leaders program, visit: http://www.epa.gov/climateleaders/.