Sizing Up Big Business' Climate Footprint

A new scorecard ranks corporate contributions to global warming

| June 21, 2007

Who's contributing to global warming, and who's engaged in the fight against it? Coke or Pepsi? Yahoo or Google? McDonalds or, well, any other fast food? For the environmentally conscious consumer, the newly released Climate Counts Company Scorecard may be able to provide some answers.

The scorecard, which measures how ?many of the world's corporate giants are responding to climate change, was released this week by the nonprofit Climate Counts, a collaboration between organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm and the environmental nonprofit Clean Air-Cool Planet. One of the main criteria factored into the scores was whether the companies even measured their own climate impact. Of the 56 evaluated companies, 16 scored less than 10 points on the 100-point scale for not even taking that first step. Other factors taken into account include the companies' efforts to reduce emissions, their public disclosure of environmental information, and whether they back or block legislation aimed at tackling climate change.

Users can now visit the website to find out how all 56 companies fared individually, or visitors can print out a pocket-sized reference card with the information. Soon, Climate Counts plans to make the information available through text messages, so that users can find out about companies directly from their cell phones.

During a conference call announcing the project, green business guru Joel Makower, who serves on the Climate Counts board of directors, said the Climate Counts Company Scorecard should encourage companies to ?be more open about their climate change efforts. The list of companies will continue to grow, and the rankings will be updated with documentation on how the companies are working to reduce their climate impact.

While the Climate Counts Company Scorecard is a handy new tool for tracking companies' global warming footprints, it's not a catch-all resource for the conscious consumer. Social issues like treatment of labor and other environmental criteria, such as trash production and water pollution, aren't taken into account. The project's director, Wood Turner, says the scorecard is a 'narrow perspective on climate' and there are 'plenty of other tools out there who do an overall focus.' (For some of those, check out the Corporate Knights Forum and the Corporate Responsibility Officer's 100 best Corporate Citizens).

While that 'narrow perspective' might be a shortcoming for some, the Climate Counts Company Scorecard can still serve as an indicator of who some of the environmental zeros and heroes are in today's corporate landscape. And the fact that no one on the list (including sponsor Stonyfield Farms) scored above an 80 out of 100 should remind people that when it comes to climate change, there are no winners. There is only room for improvement.

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