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Unilever Leads as Companies Increase Climate Transparency

Companies are increasingly making their climate and energy strategies public, as Unilever once again leads a ranking of companies’ global warming commitments, according to research by ClimateCounts.org.

Some 66 percent of companies rated in Climate Counts’ 2012 – 2013 Annual Company Scorecard Report have publicly available climate and energy strategies, up from 25 percent in 2007, the year the organization began rating companies.

When the financial crisis hit, it was as if “the climate discussion fell into a coma,” according to Mike Bellamente, director of Climate Counts. Now, Bellamente says, major consumer brands are recognizing climate change’s importance and meeting aggressive targets to slash emissions – all while turning a profit and growing their business.

The report scores companies in terms of their commitment to fighting global warming, and the average score of companies in the report has increased for the fifth year running, suggesting that firms are getting more environmentally friendly. This year, the average score of companies in the report increased to 52.1 out of a maximum score of 100, up from 48.6 in last year’s report and 30.6 in 2007.

With average scores having nearly doubled since 2007, Climate Counts found it necessary to create an additional tier for “Soaring” companies that earn 85 points and higher on the 100-point scorecard. Fifteen companies hit the soaring mark this year.

Five of the top six companies rated by Climate Counts—Unilever, Nike, UPS, Levi Strauss and L’Oreal—exhibited year-on-year revenue growth from 2010 to 2011 while reducing absolute emissions. The sixth was AB Electrolux, which tied with L’Oreal in the Climate Counts rankings but has struggled with raw material price pressures and challenges in its largest markets, according to Fitch Ratings.

Unilever, the top rated company for the second straight year, showed visible progress on its Sustainable Living Plan, an initiative to double the size of its business by 2020 while reducing emissions by half in that same time frame, the report says.

Climate Counts scores the largest 145 companies by revenue, in 16 industry sectors, on their actions to address climate change. The companies are assessed on a 100-point scale based on 22 criteria, which measure efforts to assess climate footprints, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support progress on climate legislation, and communicate efforts clearly and comprehensively to consumers.

Click through for Environmental Leader’s coverage of Climate Counts’ earlier reports from 2009, 2010 and 2011.

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