Coca-Cola kickstarts Arctic campaign with WWF donation

Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:33am EST
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* Europe-wide campaign to help protect polar bears

* Arctic summer ice thawed to record low last year

LONDON Jan 17 (Reuters) - Coca-Cola will give 3 million euros ($4 million) to conservation group WWF over the next three years to help kickstart a campaign to protect the Arctic from the impacts of global warming, the world's biggest soft-drinks maker said.

The Europe-wide campaign, which launched on Thursday in London, is aimed at raising awareness and funding to help protect the natural habitat of the polar bear, which is under threat from climate change.

Scientists say the Arctic is currently warming twice as fast as the global average and summer sea ice is disappearing at a rate of about 11 percent a decade.

Ice thawed to a record low last year due to climate change. Most experts estimate the ice could disappear completely in summer in 30 to 40 years, though some scientists say it might thaw as soon as 2015.

The shrinking ice mass threatens many Arctic ecosystems and species. The polar bear, a well-worn symbol of global warming's effects on the region, is already feeling threatened.

As ice retreats, polar bears are forced to spend more time on land hunting for food. As a result, people in some Arctic communities have encountered more bears which can be dangerous for the people and the bears.

The campaign aims to raise awareness and funds in European countries for the plight of the polar bear. The money raised will go towards protecting an area in the Arctic where summer sea ice should last the longest, WWF and Coca-Cola said.   Continued...