Companies Show 14% Improvement in Climate Action in 2009

Climate Counts released its 3rd annual climate scorecard today, demonstrating that, you guessed it, Climate Counts for big companies. Across the board, the companies reviewed by Climate Counts showed a 14% improvement in “climate action” and five forerunners improved their climate performance by over 20%. Climate Counts rates the climate actions of almost 150 companies (representing approximately 3,000 brands) in 16 industry sectors.

The non-profit developed the Climate Counts Company Scorecard in 2007 to assess how effective large companies are at accomplishing a single goal: solving the global climate crisis.

Here were the big winners in each of the 16 sectors:

  • Airlines: Southwest Airlines
  • Apparel: Nike
  • Commercial Banks: Bank of America
  • Beverages/Beer: Anheuser-Busch InBev
  • Consumer Shipping: UPS
  • Electronics: Hewlett-Packard
  • Food Products: (tie) Stonyfield Farm*, Unilever
  • Food Services: Starbucks
  • Hotels: Marriott
  • Household Products: L’Oreal
  • Internet/Software: Microsoft
  • Media: General Electric

The Climate Counts ratings will remind conscious consumers of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. It divides companies into Stuck (red), Starting (yellow), and Striding (green), as an easy means to determine where shoppers should spend their dollars. Red companies include: Liz Claiborne, Viacom, Burger King, Wendy’s Arby’s Group, two banks called Regions and SunTrust, Air Tran, Sky West Air and Express Jet. Please keep that in mind the next time you’re watching television or shopping for ladies sweaters.

Climate Counts paid special attention this year to political action (or lack thereof) in determining which companies were winners and which have room to grow.
Corporate associations played a major role in the failure of federal cap and trade, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on opposition lobbying, and Climate Counts wanted to laud companies who responded differently.

The non-profit singled out 21 companies that took a more progressive approach politically. These include The Gap, which supported the defeat of California’s anti-alternative energy voter referendum Proposition 23 and Starbucks which has used traditional consumer communication to make its support for strong climate and energy legislation clear.

“As Climate Counts evolves,” said board chair Gary Hirshberg,* “it will become increasingly important that it look closely at the role companies play in positively or negatively influencing climate policy. Corporations are asserting themselves into our political process as never before, and it’s important that consumers know who’s working against strong climate action.”

*Climate Counts spun out of Stonyfield and Gary Hirshberg, founder of Stonyfield, currently sits on the board of directors. We don’t see any signs of hanky panky but wanted to alert readers to the overlap in the interests of full disclosure.

Jen Boynton

Jen Boynton is editor in chief of TriplePundit and editorial director at 3BL Media. With over 6 million annual readers, TriplePundit is the leading publication on sustainable business and the Triple Bottom Line. Prior to TriplePundit, Jen received an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School. In her work with TriplePundit she's helped clients from SAP to PwC to Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA -- court appointed special advocate for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

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