Consumer technology megalith Apple has announced it will bring its entire carbon footprint for its supply chain and products to net zero emissions by 2030.
Already carbon neutral for its global corporate operations, Apple unveiled its new net zero target on Tuesday which will see the company bring its entire company and all operations and supply under the net zero banner by 2030 – including its entire business, manufacturing supply chain, and product life cycle.
“Businesses have a profound opportunity to help build a more sustainable future, one born of our common concern for the planet we share,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.
“The innovations powering our environmental journey are not only good for the planet — they’ve helped us make our products more energy efficient and bring new sources of clean energy online around the world. Climate action can be the foundation for a new era of innovative potential, job creation, and durable economic growth.
With our commitment to carbon neutrality, we hope to be a ripple in the pond that creates a much larger change.”
Apple’s new net zero commitment was announced in tandem with the company’s 2020 Environmental Progress Report in which the company detailed its plans to reduce its emissions by 75% by 2030 while also developing innovative carbon removal solutions for the remaining 25% of its comprehensive footprint.
Apple hopes that its new Report and plans for carbon neutrality will act as a roadmap for other companies as they look to reduce their environmental impact.
Despite Apple’s hyperbolic praise of its new targets, it is worth acknowledging that these are not necessarily strong net zero targets and fall behind similar targets made by its peers.
For example, arguably Apple’s biggest and traditional rival, Microsoft, announced in January that it had set a target to be carbon negative and that by 2050 it would remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.
In its announcement, Microsoft incidentally slammed Apple’s weaker targets – despite the fact that they were unaware of what its younger rival would announce months later – saying that, “While the world will need to reach net zero, those of us who can afford to move faster and go further should do so.”
Apple’s new commitments, as with its existing carbon neutrality claims, are based on matching energy demand with offsets or nature-based carbon removal initiatives.
In contrast, Google has committed to sourcing enough carbon-free energy to match its consumption across the globe for every hour of the year.
“I am happy to see that Apple has worked with suppliers to source actual renewable energy and that it has not relied on low-impact solutions like offsetting or renewable energy credits,” said Greenpeace USA’s senior corporate campaigner, Elizabeth Jardim.
“But I will want to see how the company is further phasing out reliance on fossil fuels throughout its operations on a near-term timeline.
“At present, the company has matched data-centre energy demand with renewables and committed to do the same for its supply chain.
“But this is not the same as phasing out fossil fuel use altogether.”
Apple’s 10-year roadmap announced Tuesday seek to utilise a raft of innovations to reduce its emissions, including low carbon product design, expanding its energy efficiency efforts, making technological improvements to processes and materials, and the somewhat maligned concept of carbon removal through nature-based solutions such as investing in the restoration and protection of forests and natural ecosystems.
Part of Apple’s new commitment includes the establishment of an Impact Accelerator which it intends to use to focus on investing in minority-owned businesses that drive positive outcomes in its supply chain as well as in communities that are disproportionately affected by environmental hazards.
The new Impact Accelerator is also a part of Apple’s recently announced $US100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative which is focused on efforts that address education, economic equality, and criminal justice reform.
“We’re proud of our environmental journey and the ambitious roadmap we have set for the future,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “Systemic racism and climate change are not separate issues, and they will not abide separate solutions.
We have a generational opportunity to help build a greener and more just economy, one where we develop whole new industries in the pursuit of giving the next generation a planet worth calling home.”