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The “A-List” Of Climate Change Leaders Includes Oil Companies And A Cigarette Maker

Some of the companies on the Carbon Disclosure Project list of admirable businesses are known for their sustainability strategies. But there are also some surprises.

The “A-List” Of Climate Change Leaders Includes Oil Companies And A Cigarette Maker
[Illustration: Vanillamilk via Shutterstock]

At a time when national governments seem to be paralyzed on the issue of climate change, cities and businesses are taking control. Every year, CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project) surveys private sector businesses about the environmental and greenhouse gas-reducing actions they’ve taken during the past 12 months, Now CDP has released an “A List” of the companies doing the most to fight climate change–and some of the results are quite counterintuitive.

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An A-lister, according to CDP, has a handful of important qualities: They have a focus on long-term goals (emissions reductions projects span an average of 12 years), they invest a whole lot of money in climate initiatives and go beyond easiest energy efficiency projects, they are accountable for their contribution to climate change and think about the business implications, and they are able to cut down on carbon emissions while still keeping their financial performance up.

Here’s the full list of CDP’s climate performance leaders (click to zoom):


Some of the companies, including Apple, Johnson Controls, Anheuser Busch, and Unilever, work hard to promote their sustainability strategies. But there are also a bunch of surprises.

Phillip Morris, for example, makes it onto the list in the consumer staples sector (reminder: this is only about emissions, not overall corporate social responsibility).

In the energy category, four oil companies and one energy services company are on the list–but most sectors have far more than five companies on the A list. The CDP writes that “the biggest risks reported were around regulation, such as cap and trade schemes, air pollution limits and carbon taxes. All of these risks are expected to impact within three years.” Since it’s much harder to be responsible about carbon emissions as an oil company than, say, as a financial services or Internet company, CDP plans to work more closely with the oil and gas sector on guidance and reporting.

Automakers, another likely source of heavy CO2 emissions, have a strong turnout on the list. Eight companies, including Nissan, Toyota, and General Motors, scored well.

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Check out the full report here.

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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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