Thursday, June 21, 2007

ClimateCounts: Good Try, Not Quite There Yet

Greenhouse ScoreClaudia Deutsch reported in the New York Times yesterday about a new effort to track the eco-statistics of major companies. This is the sort of attention and scrutiny that is part of the Kyoto world, where carbon emissions are included in corporate financials. This is a great development: the costs of climate change are beginning to be factored into economic modeling. No more free ride for polluters!

Climate Counts, a new nonprofit group, wants consumers to think about more than taste or service when they make those decisions. It wants them to consider the companies’ records in adding to or curbing climate change.

In a scorecard to be released today, the group will rank 56 consumer companies, grouped by industry, on how they measure greenhouse gas emissions, their plans to reduce them, their support or opposition to regulation and — most important, says Wood Turner, the group’s executive director — how fully they disclose those activities.

One cool feature is that you can use your cell to get their ratings texted to you when you're actually making supermarket decisions. The results are based on 22 measures of companies in four categories: 1) Review: how does the company self-assess its ecological footprint, 2) Reduce: what efforts are the making to decrease it, 3) Policy stance: does the company promote legislation aimed at reducing global warming, and 4) Report: does the company share their assesments publicly? Some of the results are above.

While I am all for supporting companies which are out in front on this issue, some of the results strike me as quirky - what does not seem to be taken into consideration is what the company actually produces. Pepsicola is a top scorer, but they produce bottled junk and even worse, bottled water. Their products are wasteful of resources and their packaging is rarely recycled. Ebay, on the other hand, while its offices may not function at a high eco-level ( like that Sunnyvale company with solar panels everywhere!), their "product" is the gazillions of used items people buy and sell, much of it salvaged. I think Ebay is a model of commercializing reuse, a central part of the reuse, reduce, and recycle environmental trinity. So while I applaud the efforts here, I hope they figure out some way to take the actual outputs of these companies into consideration.

1 comment:

A Designer's Eye said...

Thanks for posting that. Very good info.