Unilever Scores Highest on Addressing Climate Change, Top Companies Improving Overall

Unilever tops this year’s Climate Counts list as the company taking the most action on climate change – it dethroned Nike which has held that position for several years. 

Unilever got a score of 88 out of 100 points. It’s followed by AstraZeneca with 86 points, Nike (85) and Siemens (85).

And some showed strong improvement: Wyndham Hotels and Resorts rose 30 points to score 57, and Delta Airlines rose 13 points to a score of 56, edging out rival airline Southwest at 55.

Unilever

UK-based Unilever makes over 400 products, including well known household brands like Dove, Lipton and Vaseline, and owns Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.

Unilever’s "Sustainable Living Plan," now in it’s second year, is embedding resource efficiency and emissions reduction throughout company operations.

Its goal is reduce the environmental footprint of its products 50% and source 100% of agricultural materials from sustainable sources by 2020. 

The company calls the plan an "innovative decoupling of financial and environmental performance that aims to halve the company’s environmental impact while doubling its business."

Last year, Unilever invested in Solazyme (Nasdaq: SZYM) to access its algae-based oils and bio-materials. And Unilever is part of a consortium of over 400 companies that agreed stop using HFCs (climate forcers) beginning in 2015. It cancelled contracts with companies that sell palm oil – one of the most commonly used ingredients – from sources that destroy Indonesian rainforests.

Climate Counts says Unilever’s plan, which works across the entire $60 billion company, illustrates how industry leaders are more often addressing sustainability these days – integrating it throughout the organization.

Corporate Leaders Trending Higher

In fact, Climate Counts notes we may be reaching a tipping point on corporate responses to climate change.

Company scores have improved 54% from 2007-2011, and over half of all companies have embraced formal strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

13 companies now score 80 points or higher, compared to only 4 last year. And 17 of the largest 20 companies assessed scored 50 points or higher – the largest 20 companies represent 21% of US Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Only 1 of the 20 largest companies scored is still stuck at 11 points – Amazon.

In terms of industry sector, Electronics got the highest scores with an average of 74.8 points among 13 companies.

And Toys/Children’s Equipment got the lowest scores – 9 of 13 companies scored 12 points or lower.

The leaders of the 16 industry sectors are (scores are in parentheses): 

  • Airlines: Southwest Airlines: Southwest (55)
  • Apparel/Accessories: Nike (85)
  • Beverages – Beer: Anheuser-Busch (57)
  • Commercial Banks: Bank of America (82)
  • Consumer Shipping: UPS (80)
  • Electronics: Hewlett-Packard (83)
  • Food Products: Unilever (88)
  • Food Services: Starbucks (70)
  • Home/ Office Furnishings: Herman Miller and Masco (63)
  • Hotels: Marriott (73)
  • Household Products: L’Oreal (78)
  • Internet/Software: Microsoft (68)
  • Large Appliances: AB Electrolux (80)
  • Media: General Electric (77)*
  • Pharmaceuticals: AstraZeneca (86)
  • Toys & Children’s Equipment: Hasbro (52)

Climate Counts scores the largest companies (by revenue) in 16 industry sectors – not on the size of their carbon footprint – but  on their actions to address climate change.

136 companies were scored on a 0-to-100 point scale based on 22 criteria that measure efforts to assess their climate footprint, reduce emissions, support (or block) progress on major climate legislation, and communicate their efforts clearly and comprehensively to consumers.

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