FMCG companies ask green consumers to act on climate change

FMCG company bosses urged politians and consumers for action ahead of Copenhagen, reports Envido.

Online PR News – 20-October-2009 – – FMCG companies including Coca-Cola, Reckitt Benckiser and Tesco argued last week that climate change can be fought with ‘green consumer’ behavior rather than by curbing economic growth and mass consumerism.

They were speaking at a conference in London on the role of the green consumer and business in combating climate change and urged politicians to persuade consumers of the need to act two months ahead of the climate change conference in Copenhagen. Although, some people in the audience insisted that they underestimated the need to slow consumerism, it was recognized that this degree of focus on climate change by FMCG companies and other businesses would have been impossible five years ago.

Tesco commits to be zero-carbon by 2050 to tackle climate change

The CEO of Tesco, Sir Terry Leahy, told the conference that combating climate change was now the number one priority for Tesco, and announced that the supermarket would be zero-carbon by 2050.

Leahy praised the carbon reduction targets set by governments, but said: "It is only by realising our potential as people, citizens, consumers, as users that we can turn targets into reality. It will be a transition achieved not by some great invention or some great act of parliament, but through the billions of choices made by consumers every day all over the world.”

Leahy warned that too often climate change was seen as a threat that "is turned into a demand for retreat. Green consumers are told they must accept ever greater limits on their ambitions and a reduction on what they can desire all so their carbon emissions may be reduced. This is not just unrealistic, but also fails to see the enormous positive potential of green consumers."

Coca-Cola: Act now to stop climate change

The president of Coca-Cola, Muhtar Kent, warned politicians: "Act now or you will fail, and so will the world. Politicians need to think like businesses and think about the long term."
Kent claimed that 70% of future advertising would have an environmental focus, and his aim was to reduce by 40% the energy footprint of its 10m refrigerators across 206 countries. He said that in all its customer surveys consumers now put the environment at the top of their priorities, counting also on developing countries such as Brazil and Mexico.

Reckitt Benckiser: Businesses are best placed to tackle climate change

The CEO of Reckitt Benckiser, Bart Becht, expressed his fear that a deal would not be made in Copenhagen. He said the Government is not set up to handle global issues effectively since they have short time horizons based on the elections. He said the companies gathered for this conference instead were institutions built to last.

Paul Polman, of Unilever, added: "We need a whole new business model, but it takes time."

These FMCG companies repeatedly argued that neither regulation nor government would be sufficient to reduce carbon emissions, pointing out that 70% of carbon emissions came from green consumerism.