These publicly traded companies are doing the most to help prevent climate change

  • A new ranking of publiclytraded companies identifies which ones are making clean energy a priority, both through revenue and through socially responsible decision-making.
  • The list, which is updated every six months, has been expanded to include new sectors, which means some surprise names came out on top of the list.
  • While there is no index that has been created based on this list, you may want to keep these names in mind when evaluating your holdings.

You're concerned about climate change. But chances are, you don't know what's really in your investment portfolio and whether your investments are helping or hurting the cause.

A new ranking is working to help change that.

Solar panels on Google headquarters in California
Steve Proehl | Corbis Documentary | Getty Images
Solar panels on Google headquarters in California

As You Sow, a nonprofit foundation, has teamed up with Corporate Knights, a research and financial information products company, to rank 200 companies by how well they are making clean energy a priority.

That includes how much in revenue they receive through clean energy. It also screens out companies based on other criteria, such as whether they are involved with non-green utilities, tropical deforestation, child labor or weapons.

The ranking, called the Carbon Clean 200, is updated every six months. The difference this time is that the ranking has broadened its definition of carbon-free.

Now other kinds of companies qualify, including food and apparel, real estate and banks. As a result, 78 companies made the list for the first time.

More from Impact Investing:
These cities could lose more than $34B in housing to coastal floods
Here's how investments can make money and help the environment
Investors can save the planet and still make some money

Most of the businesses are in the industrials sector, with 78 companies, followed by information technology (40) and utilities and consumer discretionary, which each had 20.

Those that made the list were predominantly based in China, which had 36 companies, followed by the U.S. with 34 and Japan with 19.

The new methodology cleared the way for Alphabet, Google's parent company, to debut in the top spot. That company was also judged on privacy, for which it received a grade of D minus. "They got the best grade out of anybody," As You Sow CEO Andrew Behar said.

No one has created an index out of the list yet. But investors who are concerned about the environment can take cues from the ranking on what to invest in. "It actually performs quite well," Behar said.

Following is a list of the top 10 companies and what they are doing in clean energy to stand out.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter Your Wealth

Weekly advice on managing your money
Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about about our products and services.
By signing up for newsletters, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

10. Banco do Brasil

The Brazilian bank provides financing for green buildings, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture, among other projects.

9. Unilever

The U.K.-based consumer staples company has 26 brands that are 100 percent sustainably sourced from agricultural raw materials. Some of those names include Dove, Hellmann's, Knorr, Lipton, Sunlight, Sunsilk and Vaseline.

8. Ericsson

With its 5G products, Swedish information technology company Ericsson is striving to provide 10 times more energy efficiency than other companies' 4G products.

7. ABB

Swiss industrials company ABB is working in the areas of renewables, energy efficiency and public transportation. Some of its products include solar inverters and high-efficiency motors.

6. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing

The Taiwan-based information technology company offers low-energy microchip products that are used in consumer electronics applications.

5. HP

The information technology company's energy-efficient equipment and hardware includes printers made from recycled plastic, as well as services to keep existing printing equipment working longer.

4. Cisco Systems

The information technology company emphasizes energy-efficient equipment and hardware, notably its EnergyStar products and technology.

3. Toyota Motor

The Japanese automotive manufacturer has distinguished itself in the areas of hybrid, electric and fuel-cell vehicles. In 2017 the company sold 1.52 million of those automobiles out of 8.96 million total.

2. Siemens

The German industrials company has set itself apart by creating business divisions that are specifically dedicated to energy efficiency and renewables. That includes areas such as smart grids, automated energy management technology and public transportation.

1. Alphabet

The parent company of Google is fully powered by renewable energy. Of note, it has purchased 3 gigawatts of wind and solar capacity to match its global operation's energy consumption.

Investing

Latest Special Reports

  • Car On Flooded Road In City

    Rising Risks looks at the real estate impact of rising tides and increasingly extreme weather.

  • Traders and financial professionals work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

    CNBC’s financial reporters weigh in on what every investor needs to know when it comes to companies' earnings reports.

  • The latest news from the Squawk Box team on investing and business.