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Report: Unilever Leads Brands for Climate Responsibility

Posted by Barry Silverstein on December 8, 2011 11:28 AM

For some, the very term "climate change" is open to debate — witness the comments on our Coca-Cola scrapped polar bear white can blog post — but a just-issued report card by Climate Counts suggests major corporations are taking their impact on climate very seriously.

Climate Counts, a nonprofit collaborative effort to bring consumers and companies together in the fight against global climate change, scores the world's largest companies on their climate impact each year to spur corporate climate responsibility and conscious consumption.

This year's Scorecard, the organization's fifth annual report, is particularly encouraging because 13 companies scored 80 points or higher (out of a maximum of 100 points), representing more than triple the number of companies to achieve that threshold in 2010. "Of the twenty largest companies scored," says Mike Bellamente, Climate Counts Project Director, "seventeen are scoring at the highest level."

Climate Counts scores the largest companies by revenue — 136 companies in 16 industry sectors — on their actions to address climate change. The companies are assessed on a 100-point scale based on criteria. The criteria measure a company's efforts to assess their climate footprint, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support progress on climate legislation, and communicate their efforts clearly and comprehensively to consumers.

Some of the leading companies in their sectors are: Southwest Airlines (airlines), Nike (Apparel/Accessories), Anheuser-Busch (Beverages), Hewlett-Packard (Electronics), Unilever (Food Products), Marriott (Hotels) and AstraZenica (Pharmaceuticals).

Some interesting statistics from the report include:

  • 63.9 percent of companies improved their score from 2010 to 2011
  • 13 companies scored 80 points or above in 2011 compared to 4 in 2010
  • Electronics is the highest scoring sector while Toys/Children's Equipment is the lowest scoring sector

The second highest scoring company, AstraZeneca, achieved a remarkable goal in 2010 by reducing annual emissions to 38 percent below 2005 levels. The top scoring company, however, was Unilever, with 88 out of 100 points, unseating Nike, who had been the leader for the previous three years.

Unilever, a U.K.-based conglomerate with over $60 billion in annual revenue, owns over 400 brands, including Axe, Bertolli, Close Up, Dove, Lipton, Knorr, and Vaseline.

Unilever follows a Sustainable Living Plan which sets the goal of, by 2020, cutting the environmental footprint of their products in half, sourcing 100 percent of its agricultural raw materials sustainably, and helping more than 1 billion people improve their health and well-being. According to Climate Counts, Unilever "has embedded resource efficiency and emissions reduction targets into all layers of its operations."

Mike Bellamente says, "We're witnessing a remarkable shift across the corporate community. As business risks associated with climate change continue to grow, sustainability is becoming intertwined with long-term strategy at the highest levels of business. Our optimism is tempered by the reality the global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, but corporate leaders appear to be on the right track."


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