Here’s how Apple is trying to curb greenhouse gas emissions

Source: By Dino Grandoni, Washington Post • Posted: Friday, April 12, 2019

People walk past an Apple store in Beijing (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

Ahead of Earth Day, Apple announced how it is ratcheting up its efforts to rein in greenhouse-gas emissions from its worldwide operations: It is now compelling its suppliers to use wind, solar and hydroelectric energy to power their plants.

As Steven Mufson and I report, the computer-maker said Thursday that 21 manufacturers in its supply chain have recently vowed to obtain all their electricity from those and other renewables sources, bringing to more than 5 gigawatts the total amount of renewable energy that will be used by the company and its suppliers by 2020.

That would bring the use of renewable energy to more than 40 percent for Apple and its manufacturing supply chain, the company said, and the total number of participating suppliers to 44.

Last year Apple said it had purchased enough renewable energy to cover all of its own operations and much of its suppliers’. Yet in a testimony to the complexity of reducing the single corporation’s contributions to raising global temperatures, Apple acknowledged that nearly three-fourths of its carbon footprint comes from manufacturing, almost all of which Apple outsources.

Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives at Apple, said that a majority of the suppliers were based in China.

“We’re super excited about the fact that this program has taken off the way it has,” she said. “In doing all of this, we based it on our belief that companies would join us if we could show that it was economically feasible and doable.”

The announcement from Apple, whose market capitalization for a time last year crossed the $1 trillion threshold, comes at a time when shareholders and customers are increasingly asking companies to step into the leadership void left by the U.S. government after President Trump’s commitment to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

Jackson, who before joining Apple served as former president Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency administrator, mentioned that retreat from the international agreement that her old boss brokered as a motivation for the computer giant.

“We felt it was really important for U.S. businesses to step up and make clear that we’re still in and understand our responsibility and commitment to address climate change,” Jackson said.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook and former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson arrive for a state dinner at the White House last year. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

At the same time, environmentalists have pointed to the incessant cycle of product releases for contributing to the mountains of “e-waste” as consumers abandon old devices for new ones. Apple’s decision to frequently change the design of charging ports on its cellphones and laptops, for example, leads to a lot of abandoned power cords.

While Jackson said Apple is “absolutely working on” the charger question, it has identified higher priorities regarding a goal it set two years ago to get all of the material in its iPhones, MacBooks and other devices from recycled sources to reduce the impact of mining.

Last October, Apple took a step with a relatively easy metal to recycle: aluminum. The company committed to getting all of the aluminum for its MacBook Air and Mac mini lines of computers from recycled sources.

“I have to be honest, when we start looking at materials to prioritize, we prioritize those materials that we think are either conflict materials — or that can be problematic to source, I’ll say that — or that are huge energy users,” Jackson said, noting that aluminum smelting remains a large source of carbon emissions.

Read the rest of the story here:

Climate and Environment
The company said 21 of its suppliers recently vowed to obtain all their electricity from renewable sources.
Dino Grandoni and Steven Mufson

OIL CHECK

An Amazon Go store in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

— Amazon employees want the company to be a “climate leader”: Speaking of tech giants, more than 3,500 employees at Amazon signed a letter, with their names attached, calling on the tech giant to do more to combat climate change. It’s the “largest employee-driven movement on climate change to take place in the influential tech industry,” the New York Times reports, adding the letter is also significant because of how rare it is for tech employees to include their names on public criticism of their employers. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.) The letter calls on Amazon to “to approve a shareholder resolution that would force the company to develop a plan to address its carbon footprint. The resolution was filed by more than two dozen current and former employees late last year, and it could come up for a vote next month.”