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Companies get ranked on global warming

Canon, Nike and international consumer goods giant Unilever topped a list rating climate-friendly companies released Tuesday.
/ Source: news services

Consumers who want to give their business to climate-friendly companies got a new tool Tuesday.

It's a pocket-sized scorecard produced by a new nonprofit, Climate Counts, and based on 22 criteria developed with help from experts. Companies are graded from 1 to 100 on whether they measure their own carbon "footprints," what they have done to reduce their impact on the climate, their stances on global-warming legislation and what they disclose to the public about their work on the issue.

"Global warming is real. We have 10 years to do something significant about it, and we can," said Gary Hirshberg, the chairman of Climate Counts and chief executive 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."

Climate Counts said Canon, Nike and Unilever, a food and consumer goods giant, got the best scores in its initial ratings of 56 companies. They scored 77, 73 and 71, respectively., Wendy's, Burger King, Jones Apparel, CBS and Darden Restaurants (Red Lobster, Olive Garden) all got zeros. Apple, and Levi Strauss also were among 16 companies with scores under 10.

The survey ranked the 56 companies chosen for their popular household use among mainstream consumers in North America and Britain, and for leading their respective sectors, from electronics to fast food.

Companies in the electronics/computer sector did well in addressing climate change compared with media and Internet companies, the survey found, with six of the 12 studied scoring above 50.

Apple got a 2
Besides Canon — which scored the highest of any company in any category — the other top electronics companies were IBM, Toshiba, Motorola, Hewlett-Packard and Sony. In addition, Dell, Hitachi, Siemens, Samsung and Nokia were all in double digits. Only Apple scored in single digits within this group, and that was a 2.

Food services as a sector was worst in terms of climate change impact, with none of the six scoring above 50 and three with a zero rating. Starbucks ranked highest in this group, with 46, followed by McDonald's, at 22. Yum Brands — which includes Kentucky Fried Chicken and Taco Bell — scored a 1.

The rankings were based on criteria that roughly broke down into four categories: how well a company had reviewed its global warming impact; how much it had reduced that impact; how much it supported public policies that encourage this reduction; and whether the company made this information available. The amount of carbon reduction was weighted most heavily, worth a possible 56 out of 100 points.

Hirshberg stressed that the ranking was seen as a "snapshot" of companies' progress. But it was also supposed to work for consumers who want to make an environmentally sound choice.

To do so, they can check the group's Web site,, for individual company rankings and the complete scorecard.

Giving consumers some 'muscle'
Climate Counts said it developed the scorecard with help from business and climate experts and verified data with the companies.

"We saw that no one was grading companies on climate from the consumer point of view," said Wood Turner, the project director. "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 lightbulbs or energy-efficient appliances."

"We've created this tool to help people flex their consumer muscle," he said.

Stonyfield, which scored 63, offsets 100 percent of its carbon emissions from manufacturing, Hirshberg said, but it needs to do more with renewable energy to cut the greenhouse gases that spur global warming.