NEW YORK: Unilever, UPS and Nike are among the companies making the most progress in the area of sustainability, all while driving revenue growth, a report has revealed.

Climate Counts, the not-for-profit group, assessed 145 corporations across 16 industries, using 22 criteria covering issues like reviewing, reducing and reporting their emissions, as well as a firm's overall policy stance.

Unilever, the FMCG giant, led the charts on 91 points, a lift of three points from 2011. It was praised for committing to, and delivering on, plans to double its sales and halving its environmental impact by 2020.

"Ordinary people are increasingly suffering the effects of extreme weather events and the associated food and water shortages," said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. "They are expecting us to be responsible in helping them to manage these challenges."

UPS, the shipping specialist, and Nike, the sports expert, logged 89 points apiece, improvements of nine points and four points respectively from 2011.

"UPS's sustainability strategy is rooted in a commitment to transparency and responsibility," said Scott Davis, its CEO. "We continue to advance our efforts to measure, manage, and mitigate our carbon footprint while offering our global, socially conscious customers innovative products and services."

Levi-Strauss & Co, in the apparel category, recorded a 13 point gain to 87 points, sharing this score with L'Oreal, the cosmetics manufacturer, and AB Electrolux, from the appliances sector.

Some 15 players achieved the top-ranking "soaring" status, on 85 points or more, a group that also housed IBM, the services firm, on 86 points, a total matched by Bank of America, the financial services provider.

In evidence of this, the average featured enterprise registered 52.1 points, an expansion from 48.6 points in 2011 and 45 points in 2010. Returns on this metric stood at just 30.6 points in 2007.

"The new tier of 'soaring' companies … is anything but an indication of mission accomplished," said Wood Turner, VP, sustainability innovation at Stonyfield Farm, the dairy firm. "First, it should remind lagging companies exactly how far off the pace they actually are."

"And second, it should tell U.S. lawmakers that many of the world's biggest job creators consider climate leadership a winning and essential business strategy demanding serious and immediate public policy support."

As a means of demonstrating this positive trend, the analysis revealed that 66% of organisations had climate and energy strategy details that were publically available, compared with 25% in 2007.

Data sourced from Climate Counts; additional content by Warc staff