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It’s not just Coca-Cola: Corporations have co-opted the UN climate talks

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Once a year, delegates from almost 200 countries gather for the purpose of finding ways to keep climate change from spiraling out of control. This time around, they’re meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for COP27. And the event is brought to you by the largest plastic producer in the world, Coca-Cola.

While Coca-Cola is considered a lower-tier sponsor than the conference’s “partners,” which include Microsoft, IBM, and Bloomberg Philanthropies, Coca-Cola’s role has garnered an exceptionally large amount of criticism. Nearly 240,000 people have signed a petition for the Egyptian government-led conference to drop the partnership with Coca-Cola, a corporate giant that makes roughly 4,000 plastic bottles from oil every second

Over the years, climate summits have become a branding opportunity for corporations to attach their names to high-profile efforts to save the world. One report found that the companies sponsoring the 2015 summit in Paris, for example, had paid around $18.8 million, about 10 percent of the total budget. It can be hard for organizers of an expensive-to-run conference to turn down that kind of money. But those sponsorships have become a target of protest as activists seek to show how companies like Coca-Cola have contributed to the climate crisis, the very thing COP27 is supposed to address. 

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