From: Greenpeace
Published September 19, 2007 11:04 AM

Coca Cola and Greenpeace - Cooling the Beijing Olympics

Guess what? There is another big global warming problem — and we're tackling it in a BIG way! It's the chemical gases that make your air conditioner and refrigerator cool, trapping heat and removing it from your beer or your bedroom. 

Ironically, these gases, called HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons), also do a really good job of trapping heat in the atmosphere contributing to global warming, when they eventually leak out of your car, your old fridge or air conditioner.

HFCs were designed to hold heat and last a long time making them potent greenhouse gases with over 1,000 times the heat trapping power of a carbon dioxide molecule.  Not good!  And this problem is getting worse as more and more people around the world buy cars, refrigerators and air conditioning. If we don’t stop the rise in HFC pollution, it will wipe out a lot of the gains from clean renewable energy and other measures to stop global warming.


The History of HFCs
The Montreal Protocol ozone layer treaty just turned 20 years old.  It was originally created to phase out CFCs and other ozone layer destroying chemicals. But, in their attempts to phase out CFCs, the government inadvertently created a new problem by replacing CFCs with HFCs and other global warming agents. Greenpeace has been campaigning on the ozone layer from the beginning and on this crossover ozone/climate problem for the past 15 years or more. Our work continues today as we push for accelerated phase-outs and destruction of all these hazardous gases.

Road to the Olympics
Our campaign to rid the world of harmful HFCs took us on a journey to the Olympics. What better venue to make a world statement—then at the biggest global event every four years.  Back at the 2000 Sydney summer Olympic Games, Greenpeace pressured the big corporate sponsors to fess up to using nasty HFC refrigerant gases and make a pledge to eliminate them from use. 

After a discussion of the issues with Greenpeace, these corporations promised to fix the problem and develop new technology that doesn’t use HFCs.  Four years ago, for the Athens Olympics, Coca Cola, Unilever (think ice cream) and McDonalds started a coalition with Greenpeace and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) called Refrigerants Naturally. The goal of this coalition  is to stop using HFCs and shift to a number of cooler alternatives that do not add to the global warming crisis.

Coca Cola’s clever engineers worked hard for several years on refrigerant alternatives, finally settling on a vending machine designed to use a small amount of compressed carbon dioxide (ironically) as the refrigerant gas, instead of HFCs.  This machine delivers better energy efficiency, lowering greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation, and at the end of its lifetime, doesn’t emit any HFCs.  They also took the HFCs out of the foam insulation! Coke’s team settled on carbon dioxide. 

By the Torino Winter Olympics of 2006, every vending machine Coke built for the games was HFC-free. Coke did the same for the soccer World Cup last year.

Coke announced recently that every vending machine it deploys for the Beijing Olympics next summer will be HFC-free, over 6,300 vending machines at every venue of the games.  That’s pretty cool.

Coke working with Pepsi?!
Recently Pepsi joined Refrigerants Naturally along with Carlsburg breweries and IKEA. That’s cool too. We can’t wait until every Coke and Pepsi machine in America is running on non-HFC technology someday soon.

Meanwhile, the Greenpeace Solutions Unit is working to bring non-HFC refrigerator technology to the US.  It’s available in Europe, Asia and South America. Why not here?

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