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The Oscars Of Carbon Emission Reduction

Carbon War Room’s Gigaton Awards honor the companies doing the most to reduce their emissions. Who took home the trophies this year?

The Oscars Of Carbon Emission Reduction
This factory: Not a Gigaton Award winner. Flickr user Monica Mcigvern

A funny thing happened over the past few years: Major companies that had no intention of cutting down carbon emissions did so anyway. But it wasn’t because they tried; it was because the recession forced them to cut back all over, and that translated into reduced emissions.

So last year, when the Carbon War Room launched its inaugural Gigaton Awards–an awards ceremony that highlights “outstanding performances as defined by measurable carbon reductions and quantifiable steps towards sustainability”–a lot of companies ended up nominated that really didn’t intend to be worthy of an environmental prize. Not so with this year’s nominees, announced this week. Every company on the list has tried and succeeded in slashing emissions.

This year’s nominees, which are broken up into five categories (utilities, telecommunications, industrials, consumer staples, and consumer discretionary) are a varied bunch, but they probably won’t surprise anyone who has paid close attention to the corporate social responsibility space. They include PepsiCo, Tesco, Swisscom, Philips, Johnson Controls, Siemens, and PG&E.

The Gigaton Awards methodology is a combination of data from the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Global 500 Report (an examination of CO2 reduction strategies at the world’s largest companies), annual emissions intensity analysis for each industry, and ethical criteria.

“The nominees are different from last year, partially because the methodology has improved from last year. We really took into account intention,” says Jigar Shah, Carbon War Room CEO and Co.Exist expert blogger. “This year, you had to call the pocket that you were shooting the eight ball into.”

PepsiCo, for example, has worked extensively with TerraCycle on waste reduction, which in turn cuts down on CO2. Deutsche Post has worked extensively on converting to alternative sources of fuel.

“We’re tired of giving awards to people who have said, ‘We’ve come out with this brand-new approach, please give us an award for trying,'” explains Shah. “What have you actually accomplished?”

The Gigaton Award winners will be announced in December.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.

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