Climate Counts: Reflections on the 2008 Results

Photosource: Climate Counts

The NY Times recently reported the second annual Climate Counts’ results for 2008, and while a few companies showed improvement, the numbers remain rather discouraging. Currently 56 companies are included in their annual survey review crossing a wide range of sectors from media and apparel to electronics and shipping, food, beverage and the Internet.

Started by CE-Yo Gary Hirshberg, of Stoneyfield Farms, Climate Counts is a non-profit organization with the purpose of monitoring and reporting on corporate commitment to the environment. Gary reports, that while they are not measuring ‘emissions’ directly they are looking at ‘commitment.’ In reviewing some sample measures from the survey (see below), ‘commitment’ seems like it would be hard to objectively ascertain. Nonetheless it is the best survey we have to date (as far as I know) and the best one that is reported to the public.

Climate counts uses a 100-point scale to look at whether companies have:

  • Measured their climate footprint
  • Reduced their impact on global warming
  • Supported (or suggest intent to block) progressive climate legislation
  • Publicly disclosed their climate actions clearly and comprehensively

So how do we interpret the results? Well, the good news is that most companies scored higher this year than they did in 2007. Great. However at the same time, significant room for growth remains as the average score is a mere 40 points. According to a standard grading scale that would correspond to a D or thereabouts. Yikes – not good. Nine (9) companies showed no change, and Kraft and Canon were companies who dropped.

Disappointingly, Apple scored a mere 11 points out of a 100 (and that’s even 9 points higher than last year)! I guess the all-around ‘i’-coolness does not include the environment. Another disappointing low score came from Amazon. With a score of 5, the company brushed off the importance of their environmental commitment by saying that they ‘made significant progress’ from last year, according to the NY Times quote. So if you count the fact that they got a zero (0) in year 1, I suppose one can say there is improvement. Yet again, on the grading scale however that would be a clear and simple ‘F.’

I am compelled to commend Gary, as I did back in November for initiating this effort. There is nothing like public transparency and pressure to increase corporate commitment to the environment.

In the age of increasing green-washing, green-marketing and green-ification of all goods and services, it is important to see clearly through the haystack to understand and identify who is really taking steps to toward carbon emissions and reducing their environmental footprint from those who are simply jumping on the bandwagon and tooting their horn. Check out their site for more details and for a full report on all company scores.

1 Comment

  1. shoji said,

    May 20, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Great post– I think these independent metrics are important for consumers to have for reference.

    One point: I think the post is a bit unfair to Kraft and Canon, which are explicitly listed above as “dropping” in Climate Counts. In particular, Canon scored a 74 (Gary Hirshberg’s own Stonyfield scored 78). Canon’s score is greater than the “perceived green” Google at 55. I don’t know if the lower score for Canon will make for a real trend, but there’s much more room for improvement for companies other than Canon.

    The apparel industry as a whole, for example, scores quite low on Climate Counts. Jones Apparel Group scores a whopping ZERO. VF Corp with outdoors brands like The North Face and JanSport sits at 4… below even Amazon. Although it’s not listed, I’d love to see where eco-firm Patagonia sits. Is it above Stonyfield’s 78?

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