Climate Counts, a non-profit that scores the commitment to reversing climate change of 56 major corporations in well-known consumer sectors–from apparel to electronics to fast food–today released their second annual company scorecard (read the full report here and the summary here).
Climate Counts gives scores from 0 to 100, based on 22 criteria used to determine if companies have measured the carbon footprint, reduced their impact on global warming, supported progressive climate change legislation, and publicly disclosed their climate action.
According to the Climate Counts web page, “our goal is to motivate deeper awareness among consumers-not only that the issue of climate change demands their attention, but also that they have the power to support companies that take climate change seriously – and avoid those that don’t.”
The worst of the companies (scoring 5 or less): Amazon, 5; Burger King, 0; Darden (owner of Red Lobster, Olive Garden and other chains), 0; eBay, 5; Jones Apparel Group (Anna Klein, Nine West and many other brands), 0; VF Corporation (Lee and Wrangler jeans and others), 4; Viacom (4), Wendy’s (0), Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and many more), 1.
The best of the companies (scoring 65 or more): Canon, 74; General Electric, 71; Hewlett-Packard, 68; IBM, 77; Motorola, 66; Nike, 82; Proctor & Gamble, 69; Sony, 68; Stonyfield Farm, 78; Toshiba, 70.
The good news is that the Climate Counts scoring approach attracts a lot of press attention, effectively rewarding those companies that make worthy efforts and chastising those who don’t. Last year, for example, Climate Counts was among the organizations that helped bring attention to Apple’s slow start when it comes to environmental commitment (the company scored a lowly 2 last year and only 11 this year).
According to Wood Turner, Director of Climate Counts, this kind of scrutiny, through Climate Counts or by other means, can encourage corporations to make real efforts. In an email to me, he told the story of how Levi’s made the effort to climb from a score of 1 in 2007 to 22 in 2008:
We got their attention with a score of 1 pt (out of 100) on June 19  and got a call from them late that afternoon. They were bewildered but motivated. They acknowledged that they were behind on climate change and that the score had very much gotten their attention. They said simply, “You got our attention. What can we do?” And we were more than happy to take them through our 22-criteria scorecard and our key benchmarks.
They quickly moved to begin reporting much more openly about their concrete activities and future plans, expanding their environmental reporting on their website including information about their efforts to measure their climate impact and set goals to reduce it. These are clearly just first steps, but on the pathway toward deeper corporate climate responsibility, they are absolutely important ones because they indicate a willingness to face even greater scrutiny from an increasingly engaged consumer — to us, that’s one of the hallmarks of climate leadership.
You can read what others think of the Climate Counts report at the Wired blog and the Environmental Leader. I’m thinking the Climate Counts approach is no replacement for legislation and a regulated cap and trade system, but until we get some politicians with backbones, by finding a way to focus and aggregate the power of consumers, Climate Counts is making a start.
What do you think?