Unilever, UPS, Nike lead efforts to address climate change

Top-ranked Unilever achieved a score of 91 out of 100 possible points, the highest score ever awarded since the first Climate Counts report was released in 2007, while an unprecedented number of companies (15) achieved scores of 85 or higher this year.

"Never before has it been so important for business to step up its leadership to address both the causes and the impacts of climate change," said Paul Polman, CEO of U.K.-based Unilever. "Ordinary people are increasingly suffering the effects of extreme weather events and the associated food and water shortages. They are expecting us to be responsible in helping them to manage these challenges."

A short list of the most improved and the least improved companies from 2007 to 2012 provided context to the rankings. eBay, Clorox and Levi Strauss were identified as the top three companies demonstrating what the report described as "noticeable progress." Siemens, Avon and Molson Coors Brewing Company were also included in the "most improved" group.

Amazon, Wendy's and Viacom have shown the least progress since 2007, the report found. "To the extent that these companies are embracing sustainability, there continues to be little publicly available evidence to suggest that they are measuring, reducing and reporting their GHG emissions," it read. Scores for the other companies on the "least improved" list -- Burger King, apparel company Liz Claiborne and McDonald's -- took a downwards turn by the end of the 2007-2012 period.

The clear loser in the report was the toys and children’s products industry. Out of the eight companies that scored zero points, six of the eight were from this category, making it the lowest-scoring sector. Industry leader Hasbro, however, was given a score of 73.

The fast food industry also performed poorly, with Wendy’s and Burger King scoring in single digits (5 and 2 respectively) and McDonald’s at 14.

And despite Apple's score of 62, it ranked at the bottom of its 14 peers in the technology sector. IBM led with a score of 86. But in the Internet/software category, Apple landed just two points behind Google, which was the top-ranked company in that sector with a score of 64. At the other end of the spectrum, prominent online professional network LinkedIn received a score of zero in the Internet/social media category.

Next page: Lack of industry, consumer pressure affects scores