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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Gigaton Awards: A Race to the Top

Cross posted on Hub Culture.

What if solving climate change were a race to the top?

What if companies were in competition to win the next industrial revolution, with the winners being those who most reduced their greenhouse gas pollution?

That is the idea behind the Gigaton Awards, which were conceived by Sunil Paul and implemented by the Carbon War Room and the Gigaton Throwdown, both projects of Sir Richard Branson. The idea is to award companies that have reduced carbon emissions by the greatest amount. The scale of this challenge is immense, as a "gigaton" of carbon is a billion metric tons: human activity currently adds more than 30 gigatons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere per year through the burning of fossil fuels.

I interviewed Sunil Paul to learn more about the Gigaton Awards. Here is what he had to say:

I attended the awards ceremony, a gala with chicken with asparagus and carrots soaked in red sauce, accompanied by a bottomless glass of wine. The event was hosted by Andrew Winston, the author of Green to Gold, and speakers included Jose Maria Figueres, the former president of Costa Rica, and Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire Chairman of the Virgin group.

Companies were nominated based not only on the total amount by which they reduced their pollution, but also on how much they reduced their emissions relative to their revenue. All the companies that were nominated were, as Sunil said, large corporations. That makes sense, as only large corporations have emissions that are large enough to make a big reduction in emissions. Because it would be unfair for a renewable energy company to compete with a telephone company, for example, several categories were established.

Most of the winners were companies that had aggressively pursued energy efficiency, which makes sense because there are so many opportunities in energy efficiency. But as Sunil said in his interview, this is just the first year, and he hopes that the competition will get tougher as we develop more and more ways to cut our pollution.

Categories and Winners are...

Consumer Discretionary
Winner: Nike for an aggressive energy savings program aimed at reducing its global greenhouse gas emissions.
Runners up: Toyota Motor, Panasonic, Walt Disney Company, Sony Corporation

Consumer Staples
Winner: Reckitt Benckiser Group for demonstrating its leadership in mitigating risk from climate change and sustainable practices.
Runners up: The Coca-Cola Company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Kimberly Clark, General Mills, Reckitt Benckiser Group

Winner: Suzlon
for its achievement in managing its emissions and overall sustainability milestones.
Runners up: Vestas, GE Wind, Goldwind, Gamesa, Siemens Wind

Winner: 3M
for its leadership in improving energy efficiency and sustainable practices.
Runners up: MTR Corporation, Alstom, Boeing, Raytheon

Winner: Vodafone Group
for its new business which provides carbon reducing connections.
Runners up: American Tower, Verizon Communications

Winner: GDF Suez
for its demonstrated leadership by emitting among the lowest CO2 per KWh produced in Europe.
Runners up: Chubu Electric Power (Japan), Snam Rete Gas (Italy), Kansai Electric Power (Japan), √Člectricit√© de France (France)

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