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October 17, 2011
Munich Re and IBM Lead Companies in Newsweek's 2011 Green Rankings
    by Robert Kropp

IBM moves up from third place finish last year to first in US, and HP ranks second for second year in row; Dell drops from first to fifth, and Munich Re tops list of global companies.

The results for the most closely watched green rankings are in, and, as they have every year since the first publication of Newsweek Green Rankings in 2009, computer companies lead the way in the US. IBM, which finished third on last year's list, took the top spot this year, with the only overall green score over 80 among US companies. With a score of 82.5, IBM also finished second among global companies, behind Munich Re. The Swiss insurer earned a score of 83.6.

For the second year in a row, HP finished second among US companies. The top five in the US was rounded out by Sprint Nextel, Baxter, and Dell.

Dell, which finished first last year but fell to fifth in 2011, announced in September that it will stop buying Renewable Energy Credits in order to achieve carbon neutral business operations. Its 2011 CSR report also reveals that both its direct emissions and emissions from purchased electricity have increased dramatically, and that its green power purchases now account for 28% of the electricity it uses, compared to 129% in 2010.

Newsweek collaborated with two leading environmental research providers, Trucost and Sustainalytics, to produce the 2011 Green Rankings. Companies' overall green scores are derived from their environmental impact, management, and disclosure. Trucost assesses environmental impact by quantifying publicly disclosed environmental data and putting a dollar figure on that impact. Sustainalytics determines the environmental management score by focusing on company operations, contractors and suppliers, and products and services.

Environmental disclosure was included as a stand-alone score for the first time this year, and IBM scored especially well in this area, with a score of 83. Dell's score on disclosure, on the other hand, was 49.3. The score evaluates the quality of corporate environmental reporting, as well as involvement in transparency initiatives such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

Global attention to climate change has changed for the worse since Newsweek published its first Green Rankings in 2009. "The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen at the end of 2009 ended without an agreement, and climate science in the US has been politicized by Tea Partiers and others," Newsweek says. But, it continues, companies have realized that tending to the environment is good for business too.

"Big companies have decided that this is a long-term play," says Thomas Lyon, a professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.

Following Munich Re and IBM in the top five global companies were National Australia Bank, Bradesco, and ANZ Banking Group. Oddly, four of the top five global finishers were in the financials sector, while the top financial ranking in the US went to Hartford Financial Services, which finished 12th.


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