Gigaton 2011 Winners: Tesco, Philips, Schneider, Suntech, Swisscom & Centrica

As government negotiators hit the halfway mark to reach an agreement on climate policy at the COP17 UN climate summit in South Africa, there's a looming sense that progress on the policy front is a long time in coming.

So perhaps it's a fitting counterpoint to recognize the business leaders that are already making major steps on reducing their greenhouse gas awards.

The second annual Gigaton Awards, announced tonight at an awards ceremony tonight during the World Climate Summit, named six companies as global leaders on real-world progress in reducing their carbon impacts.

The firms, Tesco, Philips, SunTech, Schneider Electric, Swisscom and Centrica, are the ones that have done the most to inspire gigaton-scale carbon emissions reductions in their sectors over the last 12 months.

The awards were presented by the not-for-profit Carbon War Room, in conjunction with Carbon Disclosure Project, the Gigaton Throwdown and the World Climate Summit, and are the premier global awards for corporate carbon reduction and sustainability.

The six firms were selected out of 25 companies nominated for the awards, based on an analysis of their carbon emissions reduction activities over the last year. Final awards were determined based on votes by the 22-seat Gigaton Academy – made up of some of the leading lights in climate science and action, including Yvo de Boer, former director general of the UNFCCC, Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), Kevin Conrad, special envoy on climate, Papua New Guinea and Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency, as well as senior executives from global companies including Ernst & Young, A.P. Moller Maersk, PUMA, Siemens and Yahoo, politicians and a number of NGOs.

The winners of the 2011 Gigaton Awards are as follow:

Consumer Discretionary: Tesco plc (U.K.), for its work on supply chain emission reduction and Knowledge Hub showcasing pilots of carbon reduction plans and training.

Consumer Staples: Philips (Netherlands), for its EcoDesign process -- identifying environmental impact in terms of energy efficiency, hazardous substances, take-back, recycling, weight and lifetime reliability.

Industrials: Schneider Electric (France), for its leadership in energy efficiency and the development of the smart grid.

Telecommunications: Swisscom (Switzerland), for its portfolio of green ICT products and services -- supporting a more sustainable work and lifestyle for its customers.

Utilities: Centrica (UK), for its energy for a low-carbon world program -- enabling consumers to generate their own low-carbon energy and energy efficiency.

The prestigious Gigaton Prize, awarded to the company that has contributed to the greatest amount of absolute carbon emissions reduction worldwide, went to Chinese solar giant, SunTech.

And for the first time, a special Gigaton Prize was awarded to a country, with Germany earning the award for investing the most in renewable energy and energy efficiency R&D.