BMW Tops Sustainability List

The 2008 Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes have been released, and the Automobiles crown goes to Miss Germany: BMW. The report is labyrinthine and multi-partite, so I’ll try to break down the auto section to give GoodGreenCars readers an idea of what makes BMW so sustainable.

The review is produced annually by Dow Jones Indexes and SAM, a sustainability investment specialist. They analyze corporate economic (i.e., risk management), environmental (climate change mitigation), and social performance (labor practices) in 57 industries. BMW scored well enough in all three categories to be the leader in the Automobiles sector.

SAM and the DSJI aren’t in it for the love — they’re in it for the money. And the money says that investors are demanding sustainable practices from industries.

But this is not an endorsement of BMW vehicles as particularly green. The popular 3-series gets about 21 mpg combined and emits a middle-of-the-road 8-9 tons of CO2 annually, while the company’s MINI lineup is rated at 29 mpg and 6.3 tons of CO2 annually. At the other end of the spectrum, the top-of-the-line M6 gets 13 mpg and releases 14.1 tons of CO2 annually (it also starts at $101,000).

BMW has complained loudly about how difficult it will be for it to meet the new CAFE standards in the U.S., and has paid millions in fines for CAFE violations in the past few years. So while their manufacturing processes may be sustainable enough for the Dow Jones, they’re a little lacking where the rubber meets the road.

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