CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The fast-food industry is anything but speedy when it comes to responding to climate change, according to a new consumer scorecard highlighting Earth-friendly meals, clothing, electronics and other goods.
The scorecard released Wednesday by Climate Counts rates 60 companies, grouped by industry, on how they review and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, the positions they've taken on proposed regulations and how open they've been with the public on the issue.
Since the group released its first scorecard a year ago, 84 percent of the companies it tracked improved their scores, suggesting that companies are starting to pay attention to the risk of climate change. But the average score was only 40 out of a possible 100 points, with the food service sector in particular showing little or no progress.
Starbucks gained 3 points to score a 49, while McDonald's gained 5 to score a 27. But there was no change for Burger King, Wendy's or the parent company of Red Lobster and Olive Garden, all of which had scores of zero for the last two years. Yum! Brands, which owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken, scored a 1 both years.
''It's a call to action to us to really begin to focus more heavily on those companies in particular,'' said Wood Turner, project director for Climate Counts, who noted there are hundreds of thousands of fast food companies in the United States using billions of dollars worth of energy each year.
''These companies do have an impact on climate change and need to be part of this conversation,'' he said.
Nike earned the highest overall score of 82 points, in part because it has supported climate change legislation and reduced its carbon footprint by 80 percent in the last decade.
In general, electronics companies were the highest performers. Canon, General Electric and Toshiba all scored over 70. Other high-scorers were Stonyfield Farm yogurt -- the nonprofit's top funding source -- and Unilever.
Google showed the most improvement since last year, increasing its score from 17 points to 55.
Climate Counts has distributed hundreds of thousands of pocket-sized scorecards for consumers, and its Web site allows consumers to send messages to companies about their purchasing decisions.
''We've always seen our campaign as really as a choices and voices campaign, ''Turner said. ''It's really about motivating consumers to make better choices by using the pocket guide and using the Web site to get information, but then we ask them to take the next step and send the message directly to companies to let them know they're paying attention. And I think that's definitely happening.''