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May 15, 2013

Tar Sands and Soda? Launching the Future Fleet Campaign

By Michael Marx, Beyond Oil Campaign Director

The Sierra Club has a long and successful history mobilizing our two million-plus members and supporters to push government leaders to protect our health, air, water, land, animals, and climate. Corporations have a tremendous impact on all of these. 

With the launch of the Future Fleet campaign we intend to hold corporate leaders to the same high level of scrutiny and responsibility as government. We will push them to get off the fence on climate, stop being part of the problem, and start being part of the solution. Today, the Sierra Club, ForestEthics, and our millions of supporters, kick off our campaign to persuade the first three companies -- Coke, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper -- to make the leap and join us as leaders in the effort to solve the climate crisis.

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group own and operate some of the biggest vehicle fleets in the U.S. -- between them more than 100,000 vehicles moving soft drinks and snacks around the nation.

Oil use accounts for more than 40 percent of U.S. carbon pollution, and the biggest customers for oil are large companies. By getting these three corporate fleets to start a corporate race to the top by prioritizing fuel efficiency and eliminating tar sands, we can significantly reduce the nation's demand for oil, curb emissions, increase transportation choices, and slow the development of extreme oil sources, like tar sands.

We are quickly running out of time to head off the climate crisis, so we're starting with some of the biggest oil consumers. As well-known worldwide brands, the decisions these beverage giants make about what they drive and what fuel they use will influence what vehicle and parts manufacturers build and the market for high-carbon extreme fuels like tar sands. Efficiency gains in those 100,000 vehicles will have a real and immediate effect on the amount of carbon pollution we produce as a nation.

These are companies that care deeply about consumer feedback, so when consumers ask them to be leaders on climate solutions, we know they will listen. Washington, D.C., remains gridlocked, and oil companies continue their multimillion dollar climate denial PR campaign, but these companies have three great reasons to act without delay. First, to protect and strengthen their brand by being climate leaders. Second, to reduce fuel usage and save money. And third, to do the right thing for their next generation of customers.

We are asking these companies to accelerate the switch to electric and more efficient vehicles, improve driving behavior, and change shipping practices to save fuel.

We are also asking them to reject the most dangerous and extreme sources of oil, starting with the worst of the worst: tar sands. While companies need eventually to move off oil altogether, they urgently need to start with the most egregious source. We know which oil refineries process tar sands, and ForestEthics has already convinced 19 companies to stop buying from them. The Sierra Club is joining and expanding this successful effort to convince even more companies to get on board and go even further to reduce their oil consumption altogether.

To date, the climate movement has largely given large corporate oil consumers a free pass. Those days are over. With the Future Fleet Campaign, we along with ForestEthics intend to shine a bright spotlight on the need for corporate leadership to head off a climate crisis, starting with their oil consumption. This has been a critical missing link in the climate movement, but no more. The future fleet will use no oil!

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