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How Climate Counts got it all wrong

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Staff writer ▼ | May 10, 2008
climate appleHow one of the worst press releases found its way to newspaper and website headlines. And made Apple bad along the way.

We all should do as much as we can to protect our environment. It shouldn't be like "This is 'in' this week", but real commitment. After all, we don't want to left a piece of rock to our children instead of clear sky, blue sea and fresh air. That said, every report that points to any wrongdoing and pollution should be welcomed, but it seems that some companies care more about their PR than nature.

While looking at Google News I couldn't help not seeing the headlines like "Apple worst in climate policy". Those headlines naturally caught my attention and I read 'em all and read them again and again. I wonder is the job of journalist to publish press releases or to stop and think for just one minute and draw his own conclusion? The point is that Climate Counts' report about green side of companies shouldn’t be trusted at all.

Climate Counts, founded by Stonyfield Farm, released its annual ranking that deals with companies and their relation to nature. Climate Counts ranked companies with the score from 0 to 100, and list of electronic companies looks like this: IBM 77, Canon 74, Toshiba 70, Sony 68, Hewlett-Packard 68, Motorola 66, Siemens 51, Samsung 51, Hitachi 51, Dell 49, Nokia 37, Apple 11. Thus, it seems that Apple is evil company that should be left in the dust. But, the truth is that Climate Counts' serves only to bring words "Climate Counts" in headlines.

climate appleLet us see their report:

"Review: 0/22 points. Climate Counts found no publicly available information on Apple’s efforts to measure its company wide impact on global warming (i.e., its greenhouse gas emissions or climate footprint).

"Reduce: 8/56 points. Climate Counts has found that Apple has completed analysis of the impact that many of its products have on global warming while being used by consumers and has engaged with its employees and other companies on climate-related issues.

"Policy Stance: 0/10 points. Climate Counts found no public information to suggest that Apple supports public policy that addresses climate change.

"Report: 3/12 points. Climate Counts has found that Apple has made some public information available on its efforts to address global warming."

Well, what that report tells us? Nothing. Climate Counts repeats that they "found no public information" and that simply means just that: There's no public information. It doesn't mean that Apple or any other company on their list doesn't care about environment.

Let us look at Climate Counts and their profile to see if their word counts. On their website in section "About us" you'll find empty phrases that tell us nothing. In "Fighting Climate Change" you'll find nothing about how to fight and what to do. I'm in media for over 20 years and I can tell what is abstract and what is to the point. Here I found nothing.

climate appleClimate Counts has staff of one, which is, you may agree, not enough for any serious research. Their strategic consultant is GreenOrder, Inc., a consulting company that, by pure accident, gives advice about "How to become green". The best description of GreenOrder gave Marc Gunther of Fortune: "And what does GreenOrder do? As with most consultants, that's a little unclear." Everything I found about GreenOrder is that they are consulting company and, frankly, I don't know anything else. If you would like to know what they do, you won't find that on their website. They are proud because they have some large corporations as clients but what GreenOrder did for their clients?

After surfing the net for a while I may say that Climate Counts and GreenOrder are foggy companies, more secretive than drug dealers. They do something, but I don't know what. They help companies, but I don't know how. They might help my company, but again I don't know how.

From the public data on the Internet I may say that those are companies that you don't want to deal with. Are my conclusions all wrong? They might be. You see, Climate Counts used public information and I used public information. There is a possibility that Climate Counts is a noble project and GreenOrder is the best green consulting company. But I don't know that from public data. Maybe Apple is the worst or the best green company in the world, but you can't say that from public data. Climate Counts' report means one thing and one thing only: Apple's PR about green business doesn't exists. That doesn't mean that Apple is a bad company and it is not fair to mention the company in that context.

Climate Counts' report is PR for GreenOrder and nothing more. And very bad one.

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