It's About More Than Polar Bears for Coca-Cola

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Recently NLPC has reported about Coca-Cola’s holiday ad campaign to protect polar bears with donations up to $3 million to the World Wildlife Fund, which was a barely disguised effort to fund environmental pressure groups’ fraudulent global warming fight.

But Coke’s passion to avert climate catastrophism runs deeper than the Arctic ice. The company even has a position statement that says “the consensus on climate science is increasingly unequivocal,” that “global climate change is happening” (everyone agrees with that – it always has changed and always will), and that “man-made greenhouse gas emissions are a crucial factor.”

“Across the Coca-Cola system, we recognize that climate change may have long-term direct and indirect implications for our business and supply chain,” the company Web site says. “As a responsible multinational company, we have a role to play in ensuring we use the best possible mix of energy sources, improve the energy efficiency of our manufacturing processes, and reduce the potential climate impact of the products we sell.” 

The company’s latest “accomplishment” on that front was noted by Carbon Trust, a U.K.-based nongovernmental organization that advises companies how to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. The achievement? Coke attained the group’s highest score for carbon (dioxide) reduction in their history.

“CocaCola Enterprises is determined to grow more and to use less, and we are very proud to achieve the highest carbon performance score ever awarded by the Carbon Trust Standard,” said Simon Baldry, managing director of CCE in Great Britain. “This is a tremendous milestone that demonstrates our commitment to operate as a low carbon, zero waste business, but we know we have much more to do on our journey.”

By buying in to the environmental pressure groups’ climate and sustainability scam, Coca-Cola has invited the eco-proctologists in for a most invasive exam, and without discernment has accepted their prescriptions for what, in truth, is benign (many say beneficial) carbon dioxide growth. According to Carbon Trust, Coke was subject to a “rigorous” 12-week assessment process and came away with a score of 95 percent for “carbon” (dioxide) performance.” Evaluators examined Coke’s “carbon management standards” across all operations and also assessed the company’s “measurement techniques.”

Among the moves that earned Coke praise from Carbon Trust:

·      Allegedly reduced energy use by 11.25 percent by utilizing “sophisticated energy monitoring systems” 

·      Installed LED lighting in 23,000 machines, apparently replacing perfectly good fluorescent lights

·      Spent $2.76 million on “biomethane heavy goods trucks” which Carbon Trust claims can produce 65 percent carbon (dioxide) savings compared to diesel trucks

The announcement by Carbon Trust is just the most recent to emerge from the seemingly bottomless pile of environmentalist rankings and scorekeeping on various, contradictory criteria. Businessweek reported late last month that many major corporations are engaged in a “race to decide who’s greenest,” and the demands of eco-graders and corporate social responsibility activists have become as burdensome as any government regulator.

“Companies are buried in requests for data as groups jockey to be the arbiters of sustainability,” Businessweek reported.

Of course those are the kinds of inefficiencies and outright wastes of time that are acceptable to environmentalists, because corporate compliance with them boosts their credibility, legitimizes their agenda, and thus enables them to raise more money. Still, Coke has bought into the corporate social responsibility competition with enthusiasm. The Atlanta-based beverage maker has set environmentalist-oriented goals for energy efficiency, climate protection, “sustainable packaging,” and “water stewardship.”

Coke’s green-minded goals include a pledge to keep carbon dioxide emissions at 2004 levels by 2015, and to eliminate hydrofluorocarbons (which also contribute to the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere) from all new cooling equipment by 2015. HFC’s replaced that other devilish compound despised by environmentalists, chlorofluorocarbons, because they were said to contribute to ozone depletion. Coke even goes to great pains to calculate the carbon footprint per can or bottle of each beverage the company produces. The company – and Carbon Trust – maintain that each can of Coca-Cola requires 170 grams of carbon dioxide to produce it, and each single-serving plastic bottle takes 240 grams of CO2.

As for other environmental goals, Coke says it intends to “recover 50 percent of the equivalent bottles and cans used annually” and to “return to the environment, at a level that supports aquatic life, the water we use in Coca-Cola system operations through comprehensive wastewater treatment.” That’s a lot of money going toward feel-good measures that accomplish little, and do nothing to reduce prices of Coke’s products or reward investors for their faith in the company to make money for them.

Other objectives that only a liberal could love include healthy living goals. As if to gratify Michelle Obama, Coke promises to support at least one physical activity programs in every country where it operates, and to not “directly” market its beverages to children under age 12. Is Coke now the beverage equivalent of Camel cigarettes? Meanwhile Kraft Foods’ Kool-Aid doesn’t have any reservations about selling its sugary drinks to kids.

Coca-Cola, according to its own estimates, accommodates 1.7 billion servings of its products per day. Its business – as with any good business – is to grow, meet others needs and desires via free and open exchange, and to do good by maximizing profits for shareholders and keep prices on its products as low as possible. That’s how capitalism works and accrues to the benefit of the most people Coke is capable of affecting. Its pursuit of “solutions” to a phantom carbon dioxide menace – which is anti-capitalist and is actually harmful – has no effect on environmental conditions for living beings and diverts important company resources to counterproductive functions.

Paul Chesser is an associate fellow for the National Legal and Policy Center.