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The perfect moment to reflect on the urgent sustainability challenges we face


Joe Franses - Vice President, Sustainability, Coca-Cola European Partners

At the end of last week we heard that Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) had secured a position in the prestigious Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) for a fourth year in succession. It’s great news - we are one of just four beverage companies to make it onto the DSJI World Index. We achieved a maximum score in eight categories – including Climate Strategy, Water Related Risks, Packaging and Eco-Efficiency. It reflects the progress that we are making on our sustainability journey and in meeting targets set out in our sustainability action plan, This is Forward.

Yet it also provides the perfect moment to reflect on the urgent sustainability challenges that we continue to face and the need to once again step-up in terms of the size, scale and speed of our response - especially on issues like the climate crisis, which European consumers continue to rank as the #1 sustainability challenge.

We’ve already made significant progress in decarbonising our business. We’ve set science-based carbon reduction targets for both our own operations and our entire value chain. Since 2010 we’ve halved greenhouse gas emissions related to our own business and seen emissions across our value chain fall by 30%. Our business is now powered by 100% renewable electricity and the changes we are making to our packaging, including the recently announced move to 100% recycled PET for our Honest, GLACÉAU Smartwater and Chaudfontaine brands will help to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of our packaging.

But we have to do more. The size and scale of the climate crisis demands a greater and more urgent response. Last year’s IPCC report demonstrated that in order to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we need to see greenhouse gas emissions reduce to net-zero by 2050 at the latest – this being the only way to avoid the significant consequences associated with a 2 degree temperature change.

The good news is that the EU continues to be at the forefront of the global response to the climate crisis. Ursula von der Leyen, the incoming President of the EU Commission has put climate change front and centre of her agenda, including a commitment for Europe to “become the world’s first climate-neutral continent” and a pledge to upscale the EU’s 2030 carbon reduction target to 50% or 55%.

Next week we’ll see the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York – attended by the remarkable climate campaigner Greta Thunberg – and next year we’ll welcome the COP26 UN climate change talks to Glasgow, a critical moment in ensuring that all countries are putting in place carbon reduction plans that will deliver the Paris Climate Agreement.

I’m delighted that CCEP is adding its voice to the important business leadership coalition which is pushing for accelerated action on climate change. We’ve joined Step-Up Now to demonstrate to European leaders the importance of upscaling the EU’s ambition on climate change. And last week I joined leaders from other business leaders to launch CLG Europe - a group of progressive companies, who like CCEP, are taking action on climate change and pushing for ambitious climate change policy.

And there is more we can do in our own business to take action on climate change. In the coming months we’ll re-assess our own carbon reduction targets - to ensure that they continue to be science-based.

We’ll be encouraging our suppliers to join us in setting science-based carbon reduction targets and moving to 100% renewable electricity. We’ve now linked our performance on carbon reduction and other sustainability metrics into our EUR 1.5bn revolving credit facility. And we’ll continue to review the carbon impact of the packaging choices we make - recognising that high percentages of recycled content and high collection and recycling rates significantly reduce the carbon impact of our packaging and that refillable packaging or dispensed solutions can have the lowest carbon footprint of all.

As the business world heads into its annual business planning cycle we should all have the climate crisis top of mind. At CCEP we will continue to assess the climate impact of every business decision we make and be actively searching for opportunities to reduce energy and fuel use, eliminate waste and utilise new technologies which support sustainability - continually challenging ourselves to ensure that what we do is in line with the needs of our planet.

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