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Amtrak, Shaklee, Ben & Jerry's Among Climate Counts' 'Industry Innovators'

Climate Counts is expanding the scope of its corporate climate performance scorecard to allow businesses to have their efforts voluntarily graded.

The nonprofit launched the Industry Innovators (i2) project today with charter member companies Amtrak, Ben & Jerry's, Clif Bar, REI, Shaklee and Timberland, each of whom received Climate Counts' top scores on the moves they've undertaken to address climate change.

Climate Counts was founded three years ago with the goal of helping consumers use their buying power to support companies taking action on climate change .

It graded some of the world's largest companies on whether they are measuring and reducing their carbon footprints, supporting public policy, and effectively communicating their efforts. Nearly 150 companies in 16 sectors have since received "stuck," "starting," or "striding" scores based on their progress on 22 criteria, but many more have clamored to also be included in the rankings, Climate Counts Executive Director Wood Turner told Tuesday.

"In our core program, prior to this release, we scored the largest companies by revenue in their sectors and chose major consumer-facing sectors," Wood said. "We will continue to score those nearly 150 companies annually and will add new companies through the i2 program."

The i2 program has two parts. Interested companies first go through a self-evaluation before requesting that Climate Counts validate and reconcile a final public score. The validation costs between $2,500 and $10,000, depending on the size of the company. Participating companies must commit to three years of review.

Scores have steadily risen since Climate Counts' inception in 2007, while some sectors have emerged as leaders or laggards. For example, eBay, US Airways, Apple and Levi Strauss each showed dramatic improvement in the last scorecard released in late 2009, while all companies within the consumer shipping and electronics sectors earned scores of more than 50 points, out of 100 possible points.

Meanwhile, companies within sectors are increasingly competing with one another on their Climate Counts scores, including rivals United Parcel Service and FedEx. Others find the program to be a valuable tool for evaluating their efforts from a different point of view, according to Andrea Asch, environmental manager at charter member Ben & Jerry's.

"While we are pleased with our results," Asch said in a statement, "a different perspective is always helpful to raise the bar and to improve."

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