Climate activists ‘baffled’ by Egypt’s move to welcome Coca Cola as COP27 sponsor

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Climate activists are “baffled” by the fact that Coca Cola, a major plastic producer, has been listed as a sponsor for the COP27 climate talks in Egypt next month, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

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The activists told the BBC that Egypt’s decision to have Coca Cola as a sponsor undermines the COP27 talks which set out to address the growing global climate threat because the majority of plastics are made from fossil fuels, one of the world’s biggest contributors to air pollution.

This year’s climate talks are hosted by Egypt in the coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh and are set to run from November 6 to 18.

Egypt announced it signed the sponsorship deal last week, according to the BBC.

Coca-Cola announced as a supporter sponsor to COP27. (Supplied)
Coca-Cola announced as a supporter sponsor to COP27. (Supplied)

Coca Cola said that it “shares the goal of eliminating waste and appreciate efforts to raise awareness.”

“Through the COP27 partnership, the Coca Cola system aims to support collective action against climate change,” the company’s Vice President of Public Policy and Sustainability, Michael Goltzman, said at the signing.

Since then, opposition to the decision has grown over Coca Cola’s links to pollution and plastic production.

Activists have accused the company of “greenwashing” – a communications strategy adopted by companies looking to forge a more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible image.

Aurora, a three-year-old female polar bear, plays with a plastic bottle in a pool in its new open air cage at the Royev Ruchey zoo on the suburbs of Russia's Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, August 30, 2013. (Reuters)
Aurora, a three-year-old female polar bear, plays with a plastic bottle in a pool in its new open air cage at the Royev Ruchey zoo on the suburbs of Russia's Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, August 30, 2013. (Reuters)

Over 5,000 people have now signed a petition calling for the sponsorship decision to be reversed.

“It is baffling that Coca Cola – the world’s biggest plastic polluter in all global Break Free From Plastic brand audits, including Kenya and Uganda – will sponsor this year’s UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Egypt,” Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director, John Hocevar, said in a statement last week.

Hocevar added that the company produces 120 billion throwaway plastic bottles per year, claiming that 99 percent of plastics are made from fossil fuels hence “worsening both the plastic and climate crisis,” and producing more greenhouse gas emissions.

“[Coca Cola] have yet to even acknowledge that this is a problem or explain how they will meet their climate goals without ending their plastic addiction. This partnership undermines the very objective of the event it seeks to sponsor.

“Cutting plastic production and ending single-use plastic is in line with the goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees. If Coca Cola really wants to solve the plastic and climate crisis, it needs to turn off its plastics tap. Ending Coca Cola’s addiction to single-use plastic is an important part of moving away from fossil fuels, protecting communities, and combating climate change.”

This photo taken on May 19, 2018 shows plastic waste on a garbage-filled beach on the Freedom island critical habitat and ecotourism area near Manila. (AFP)
This photo taken on May 19, 2018 shows plastic waste on a garbage-filled beach on the Freedom island critical habitat and ecotourism area near Manila. (AFP)

In 2019, the company admitted that it uses three million tons of plastic packaging per year.

In addition, Coca Cola was named the world’s number one plastic polluter in an audit by Break Free From Plastic last year.

Not only is plastic a major global warming contributor, but it also poses a life-threatening risk to marine and wildlife, spreading toxins that put both animals and humans’ health at risk.

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