Environment
5:50 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

NH Group Ranks Companies On Emissions Reduction Progress

Companies scoring lower than a 1 were considered to be "sustainable" by the Climate Counts Metric
Companies scoring lower than a 1 were considered to be "sustainable" by the Climate Counts Metric
Credit Sam Evans-Brown; Data: Climate Counts / NHPR

A UNH backed project has come out with its latest ranking of which corporations are doing the most to combat climate change. The UNH spin-off Climate Counts finds only about half of the corporations ranked are on a sustainable track.

In the past Climate Counts has ranked companies on corporate practices like reporting emissions and having a plan to reduce them. This year they revamped their rating so it includes a ratio of emissions per dollar contributed to GDP. Mike Bellamente, the group’s executive says the question they are trying to answer more concretely is “is each company toing their portion of the line? Are they sharing their share of the load?”

Since 2007 there’s been a steady creep of companies achieving ever higher scores in the Climate Counts ranking, and so a recalibration was necessary. The group used emissions targets that would eventually stabilize carbon in the atmosphere at 350 parts per million, a level that scientists generally agree would safely avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

“Mother nature doesn’t necessarily care about ratings,” Bellamente explains, “what we have to overcome with climate change is a matter of physics.” Climate Counts says it thinks about half of the 100 companies studied, which includes global brands like Unilever, GE and Pepsi, are reducing their emissions enough to help stabilize global CO2.

Of the companies studied a quarter reduced their emissions while at the same time growing their revenue, a finding that Bellamente says shows that economic growth need not be tied to carbon emissions. This is called decoupling, and it has already been observed in the broader economy.