Unilever tops 'scorecard' of most climate-conscious companies

The electronics and high-tech sector boasts the most companies that have hit their stride when it comes to comprehensive environmental strategies related to reducing climate change.

The annual Climate Counts scorecard of the world's more environmentally and socially conscious businesses is out, and for the first time in four years, athletic apparel company Nike didn't manage to claim the No. 1 spot. That distinction went to consumer products giant Unilever.

In the latest Climate Counts report, Unilever earned 88 out of a possible 100 points. The clincher was the U.K. company's extensive Sustainable Living Plan, which contains a pledge to reduce the impact of Unilever's more than 400 different brands by half while moving toward 100 percent sustainable sourcing of agricultural items by the end of this decade.

The non-profit said the latest report represents a "tipping point" in terms of environmental and sustainable best practices. In the report, Climate Counts Project Director Mike Bellamente writes:

"This year, 17 of the largest 20 companies assessed demonstrate what we consider to be a 'striding approach' to climate leadership by scoring 50 points or better on our scorecard. As a frame of reference, the largest 20 companies we score represent 21 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the U.S."

Here's how the scoring levels work on the list:

  • A company is considered to be 'striding' if it gets more than a 50 out of 100
  • It is "starting" if it has anything between 13 and 49
  • It is "stuck" if scores 12 or less

Unilever is "striding," of course, as is Nike, which earned 85 points for all the various criteria that Climate Counts studies. The non-profit looks at 22 different criteria in all, related to reduction efforts, ongoing management of greenhouse gas emissions, policy stances related to the environment, and reporting initiatives.

There were four "striding" companies in all: Unilever (88), AstraZeneca (86), Nike (85) and Siemens (85).

Here are some other stats that caught my attention:

  • The toy/children's category had the highest number of companies that were "stuck," making it the lowest performing sector
  • 13 companies scored more than 80, compared with just 4 in 2010
  • The electronics industry was the highest-scoring segment. Here are the top five companies in that grouping: Siemens (85), Hewlett-Packard (83), IBM (82), Nokia (80) and Sony (80)
  • The two companies that jumped the most on this year's list were Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and Amgen

I'll leave you with the top 12 "striding" companies on the list:

  1. Unilever
  2. AstraZeneca
  3. Timberland
  4. Nike
  5. Siemens
  6. HP
  7. Stonyfield Farm
  8. Bank of America
  9. IBM
  10. Baxter International
  11. UPS
  12. Sony

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com