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Unilever takes top spot on climate responsibility scorecard

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 12-Dec-2012

Unilever has topped the Climate Counts scorecard for the second year running, as the corporate climate responsibility watchdog unveils a new ‘soaring’ tier in its scoring to reflect the nearly doubled average score since 2007.

Sixty-six per cent of companies rated in this year’s scorecard had publicly available strategies on tackling climate change, compared to 25% in 2007, when the first scorecard was published. Unilever scored 91 out of a possible 100 this year, in a system that takes into account 22 different criteria.

The organisation’s director Mike Bellamente said: “When the financial crisis hit, it was as if the climate discussion fell into a coma. Now we’re seeing major consumer brands calling climate change by name and meeting aggressive targets to slash emissions—all while turning a profit and growing their business.”

Indeed, this is in line with Unilever’s own stated dual aim of reducing emissions by half while doubling the size of its business by 2020, dubbed its ‘Sustainable Living Plan’. Unilever has made “visible progress” on this plan, Climate Counts said.

“Never before has it been so important for business to step up its leadership to address both the causes and the impacts of climate change,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. “…It is time to take concerted action.  We welcome this acknowledgement by Climate Counts, we still have more to do and we encourage all of our stakeholders to accelerate their commitments to responsible growth since moving in concert is what is needed.”

The scorecard covers 150 firms across 16 industry sectors. Other food companies and their scores were: Stonyfield Farm (86), Group Danone (85), Coca-Cola Company (85), Ben & Jerry's (81), Nestle (80), PepsiCo (75), Kraft Foods (74), Clif Bar (72), ConAgra Foods (68), General Mills (62), Kellogg (61), Annie's (55), and Sara Lee (53).

Scores of 85 and over qualify for the new ‘soaring’ tier.

Climate Counts board chair and vp of sustainability innovation at Stonyfield Farm Wood Turner warned against seeing this new tier of companies as an indication of ‘mission accomplished’.

“Far from it — it’s a two-pronged wake-up call,” he said. “First, it should remind lagging companies exactly how far off the pace they actually are in tooling themselves for a very different future marketplace.  And second, it should tell US lawmakers that many of the world’s biggest job creators consider climate leadership a winning and essential business strategy demanding serious and immediate public policy support.”

The full scorecard is available to download here .

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