Canon, Nike Take Top Spots in New Climate Scorecard

Canon, Nike Take Top Spots in New Climate Scorecard

The Climate Counts Scorecard ranks 56 major companies on a wide range of criteria that aims to help shoppers know which companies are serious in their commitment to fight climate change.

Among the first companies analyzed by Climate Counts, a non-profit led by Gary Hirshberg, head of the yogurt company Stonyfield Farm, Canon, Nike and Unilever scored the highest ratings, with 77, 73 and 71 respectively out of a possible 100 points.

The companies profiled make everything from sneakers to soft drinks, apparel to electronics, and offers detailed information on just how well -- or how poorly -- each company's strategy is for dealing with global warming.

"Global warming is real. We really have 10 years to do something significant about it, and we can," said Gary Hirshberg, chair of Climate Counts and CEO of organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm. "Business must play a significant role in stopping global warming, and we believe the key to influencing companies lies in the hands of the consumer. With this scorecard, consumers now have the power to make good climate decisions in their everyday purchases."

Although Canon is a relatively low-profile company with a very high score, some very high-profile companies scored at the absolute bottom of the list. Amazon.com, Wendy's, Burger King, Jones Apparel, CBS and Darden Restaurants (which owns Red Lobster and Olive Garden) all scored zero on the survey. And another 16 companies scored under 10 points, including Apple, eBay and Levi Strauss.

"I woke up one day as a 50-year old saying, 'I studied this stuff 30 years ago in college and we're no further along,'" Hirshberg told GreenBiz. "We have made no progress. And I believe it's because we haven't engaged business in a carrot-and-stick fashion."

Adam Markham, who is the executive director of Clean Air-Cool Planet, said he hopes Climate Counts will help motivate companies to step up and take dedicated action to reduce their impact on climate change. "The Climate Counts research found that companies really run the gamut when it comes to climate commitment," he said. "Our hope is that the Scorecard challenges them to take climate change seriously and increase their efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions."

The companies were scored on a scale from one to 100, based on 22 criteria that fall within four benchmarks: whether they measure their carbon footprint; what efforts they have made to reduce their own climate impact; whether they support or oppose global-warming legislation; and what they disclose to the public about their work to address climate change.

In order to help shoppers take action on these scores in their daily outings, Climate Counts has created downloadable, pocket-sized scorecards at ClimateCounts.org as well as giving people the option to get ranking by texting "cc company name" (for example, "cc Nike") to 30644 from their cell phones.

Climate Counts developed the Scorecard with input from a panel of business and climate experts from leading non-governmental organizations and academic institutions. [In the interest of full disclosure, GreenBiz's Executive Editor, Joel Makower, serves on the board of Climate Counts.] The group chose their evaluation criteria based on how effective they would be at stopping global warming, and researchers then used these criteria to rate companies based on a point system for climate-related actions and data verified with the companies themselves. GreenOrder, a leading sustainability strategy firm, provided strategic guidance on the Climate Counts program, assisted in the development of the scoring system, and verified the scoring results for accuracy.

"When we looked at the field, we saw that no one was grading companies on climate from the consumer point of view," said Climate Counts executive director Wood Turner. "Most of the recent attention has been on what people and families can do to reduce their own climate footprint, such as buying compact fluorescent light bulbs or energy-efficient appliances. But consumers have even more power. They can motivate companies to take meaningful action to fight global warming. We've created this tool to help people flex their consumer muscle."