COP27: Coca-Cola, a divisive sponsor | Africa 21

27e United Nations Climate Conference (COP27), which takes place from 6 to 18 November 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. This major meeting for governments, companies and environmental groups, which aims to stop global warming, is sponsored by the Coca-Cola brand. But for environmental activists, the sponsorship of Coca-Cola is “another example of corporate greenwashing”.

“Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of COP27 is pure greenwashing. Over four years, in our annual business surveys, we have found that Coca-Cola is the biggest plastic polluter in the world. It is amazing that a company with such close ties to the fossil fuel industries is allowed to sponsor such a crucial climate meeting,” says Emma Priestland of Break Free From Plastic, an international organization that fights plastic pollution.

Nearly 99% of plastics are made from fossil fuels

For the environmental organization Greenpeace, Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of COP27 is “incomprehensible”. “Coca-Cola produces 120 billion disposable plastic bottles a year, and 99% of plastics are made from fossil fuels, making the plastic and climate crisis worse. If Coca-Cola is serious about solving the plastic and climate crisis, it needs to turn off its plastic tap. End Coca-Cola’s reliance on single-use plastic,” says John Hocevar, Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaigner.

A petition to remove Coca-Cola from the list of COP27 sponsors has been started by Georgia Elliott-Smith, a climate activist who attended COP26 in Glasgow. As of October 8, 2022, the petition had already been signed by 67,826 people, out of a target of 75,000.

Read also – AFRICA: UKRI funds research projects against plastic pollution

This wave of anti-Coca-Cola protests began on September 28, 2022 when the Egyptian government announced the partnership with the brand, welcoming the “shared opportunities for communities and people around the world and in Egypt”. For its part, Coca-Cola says it wants to “do its part” to take up the challenge of “eliminating waste in the ocean”. And the American soft drink giant has multiplied initiatives to fight against plastic pollution in Africa in recent years. From Kisumu in Kenya to Lagos in Nigeria via the Ugandan capital Kampala, Coca-Cola supports initiatives to collect and recycle plastic waste through start-ups and local communities.

Boris Ngounou

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