Sponsorship of Cop27 climate summit by Coca-Cola condemned as “greenwash”

A sponsorship agreement between this year UN climate conference and Coca-Cola, which has been described as the “world’s leading polluterby an environmental group, has been called a “greenwash” by activists.

Cop27, to be held in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh from November 6-18, is the premier global forum for governments, businesses and environmental organizations to address the climate emergency.

Emma Priestland, Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic, a global alliance of organizations and individuals, said: “Coca-Cola sponsoring Cop27 is pure ‘greenwash’. Coca-Cola is one of the biggest users of plastic in the world.

“More four years, we found Cola-Cola to be the world’s number one plastic polluter in our annual brand audits,” she said. “It is stunning that a company so connected to the fossil fuel industry is allowed to sponsor such a vital climate meeting.”

Environmental activists have described the partnership as baffling. A petition launched by a delegate at Cop26 in Glasgow called for an end to corporate sponsorship of the Cop talks, starting with the withdrawal of Cola-Cola.

John Hocevar, campaign director for oceans at Greenpeace USA, said: “It is baffling that Coca-Cola – the world’s biggest plastic polluter in every country in the world. Brand Audits Break Free From Plastic – will sponsor this year UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Egypt.

“Coca-Cola produces 120 billion disposable plastic bottles a year – and 99% of plastics are made from fossil fuels, making both the plastic crisis and the climate crisis worse,” he said. .

“They haven’t even acknowledged this as a problem yet or explained how they will achieve their climate goals without ending their addiction to plastic. This partnership undermines the very purpose of the event it seeks to sponsor.

The cooperation agreement with Coca-Cola was signed by the Egyptian government. During the signing ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cairo, Ahmed Rady, Coca-Cola’s Vice President of Operations for North Africa, said: “Coca-Cola’s firm belief that working together through through meaningful partnerships will create shared opportunities for communities and people around the world and in Egypt.

Super fun to have a police state climate summit sponsored by @Coca Cola while most “civil society” delegates reserve their outrage for high hotel prices instead of locking up political prisoners. #COP27 in #Egypt looks very cool and normal. #SaveAlaa https://t.co/28NEuyYxVD

— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) October 1, 2022

The announcement was met with shock and disappointment on social media, where it was condemned as another example of corporate greenwashing.

Unilever, the multinational consumer goods company, was the main partner for Cop26 in Glasgow last year, while AG Barr, maker of Irn-Bru, was the exclusive supplier of soft drinks and water in two Glasgow Convention Centers during the conference. The Irn-Bru deal was seen as a marketing stunt for the company, which included a surprise endorsement from US MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after receiving a can from Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The Cop26 sponsorship is said to have been worth an estimated £250m, with companies involved including SkyHitachi, national network, ScottishPowerMicrosoft, NatWest, Sainsbury’s and Unilever.

Coca-Cola said, “We share the goal of eliminating waste from the ocean and appreciate the efforts to raise awareness of this challenge. We’re ready to do our part and have set ambitious goals for our business, starting with helping to collect and recycle one bottle or can for every bottle we sell – regardless of provenance – by 2030.

“In 2020, we signed a joint statement urging UN Member States to adopt a global treaty to tackle the problem of plastic waste through a holistic and circular economy approach… Our support for COP27 is in line with our scientific goal of reducing absolute carbon emissions. 25% by 2030, and our ambition of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

However, Hocevar said: “Reducing plastic production and ending single-use plastic is in line with the goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees.

“If Coca-Cola is serious about solving the plastic and climate crisis, it needs to turn off its plastic tap.”

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