Apple announced this morning that it aims to ensure every product it sells will have a net-zero impact on climate change within 10 years, Axios' Amy Harder reports.
The big picture: It's the latest move by tech giants looking to go big on climate, even while they face growing scrutiny over the main thrust of their businesses, namely antitrust concerns.
Where it stands: Apple has previously announced other climate goals, like powering all its facilities with 100% renewable energy, but this one is notable for its exhaustive nature covering supply chains plus the relatively quick 10-year timeline.
Why it matters: Apple's biggest carbon footprint comes from the computers, phones and other devices made in manufacturing plants around the world that it doesn’t directly control, so this plan will shed light on how to slash carbon emissions from complex supply chains.
What they’re saying: The coronavirus may delay the rollout of the next iPhone, but it won't slow down Apple’s climate goals, Lisa Jackson, Apple’s chief sustainability officer, tells Axios.
How it works: By working with its suppliers around the world and using ever-more recycled material for its products, Apple says it can cut 75% of its emissions within 10 years.
- The remaining 25% it hopes to reduce via a new “carbon solutions fund,” which will invest money (an amount Apple isn’t disclosing) in natural ways —i.e., planting and then cutting down trees in a sustainable manner — to offset the remaining quarter of emissions.
- Company officials say this isn’t the same as engaging in official "carbon offset" programs, wherein people purchase credits to cancel out carbon footprints by ostensibly preventing emissions elsewhere (by, for instance, planting trees).
- Among other specific developments, it's announcing a new robot the company is calling Dave (to go along with current robot Daisy) that can recover rare earth material from recycled iPhones.
Between the lines: Tech companies' climate plans are often a mix of empty rhetoric and concrete action.
- Microsoft announced earlier this year it would be carbon neutral by 2030 and cancel out all its emissions since its 1975 founding.
- Amazon, which has faced the most criticism for its climate policies from its own employees, said last September it will be carbon neutral by 2040.
Reality check: What tech companies do on climate change does raise awareness of the topic, considering how consumer-facing these firms are.
- But the corporate climate goals that arguably matter most are the producers of oil, natural gas and coal, given they are the biggest reasons for climate change.