Climate Counts

Manchester, New Hampshire

Nov 2, 2011
Outside Magazine
Climate Counts

Climate Counts    Photo: Courtesy of Climate Counts

BY THE NUMBERS: 150 major companies, from Disney to General Electric, are rated annually on their climate practices
WHO'S IN CHARGE: Mike Bellamente, 35, who led a team from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to study how communities were affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
WHAT IT DOES: Launched in 2007 and operated by a small team of sustainability experts and more than a dozen independent researchers, Climate Counts uses a scorecard for corporations, rating them on 22 criteria in four areas: carbon footprint, efforts to reduce impact, support for climate-friendly legislation, and public transparency. With a $350,000 annual budget, the group now looks at companies in 16 high-visibility industries, including airlines, hotels, electronics, food products, and toys. The goal is to encourage consumers to vote with their dollars—­ratings are available through the website, a pocket guide, and a mobile app—and to spur executives to reduce their companies’ carbon output. Many firms have embraced the ratings concept; some have even hired corporate sustainability directors as a result.
EXTRA CREDIT: The group leverages a tiny staff’s efforts into positive changes on a large scale. Renowned sustainability journalist and consultant Joel Makower as well as Gary ­Hirshberg, founder of Stonyfield Farm, a corporate sustainability leader, sit on the board.
LOOKING AHEAD: In 2010, Climate Counts began offering audits, verification ratings, and workshops for smaller, unrated companies that elect to be scrutinized. The group is expanding its ratings with a new scorecard on water use.