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Apple, Nike and others push Asian suppliers to buy clean energy

The Clean Energy Procurement Academy will fund training for supply chain partners in Asia Pacific countries where renewable power is tougher to source.

Heyuan Queyashan Wind Farm in Guangdong, China

Heyuan Queyashan Wind Farm in Guangdong, China. Image via Shutterstock/Maple 90

A group of global companies including Apple, Nike and PepsiCo have launched the Clean Energy Procurement Academy to train supply chain partners in the Asia Pacific, where renewable power is tougher to source.

Over the past five years, big corporations have signed contracts to buy 148 gigawatts of clean energy, with the aim of slashing their Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions (the most direct form of carbon dioxide production). Now, a half-dozen of those companies are funding a training program to accelerate the adoption of renewable power in their Asia Pacific supply chains.

The Clean Energy Procurement Academy was created by Apple and Nike, both of which have been training suppliers on their own, along with Amazon, Meta, PepsiCo and REI Coop. The initiative will focus initially on suppliers that have a material impact on their companies’ emissions, according to the founders.

"We need the whole world to transition … The more folks we educate on these topics, the more people are engaging, and the more likely we are to see policies that motivate clean energy around the world," said Sarah Chandler, vice president of environment and supply chain innovation at Apple.

A desire to boost renewables in Asia Pacific

The companies seek to spur demand for renewables and policy change in China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and others.

"There is a recognition that any one company cannot decarbonize global supply chains. It will take collaboration around decision-making and training materials … that will allow this to move further and faster," said Eric Gibbs, senior vice president of global programs for the Clean Energy Buyers Initiative, which is managing the program.

The academy trained 15 companies in Jiangsu, China, in early October. Another session is planned for Guangdong before the end of the month. The companies supporting the first session each nominated three suppliers, said Gibbs. The nominees are being encouraged, in turn, to harmonize their efforts to embrace clean energy procurement.

One official goal of the new academy is to "establish new renewable energy buying communities in pivotal manufacturing regions."

What the curriculum includes

Apple contributed training materials to the academy from a four-year-old program for supply chain partners that has so far resulted in the addition of more than 13.7 gigawatts in supplied power. That translates into 17.4 million metric tons of avoided carbon emissions reductions. More than 250 Apple manufacturing suppliers globally have committed to using renewable energy for Apple-related production by 2030, including 40 in the last year.

Apple’s training modules were combined with similar materials from the other companies to create the curriculum for the academy, which is being localized for each market. PepsiCo, for example, launched a program in spring 2022 to help its partners learn how to negotiate clean energy purchasing contracts. It has also encouraged suppliers to consider aggregating demand for more leverage, but best practices vary region to region.

Material offered at the first training included:

  • The role clean energy procurement plays in addressing climate change, along with an overview of the evolving regulatory landscape and stakeholder and consumer expectations.
  • Techniques for greenhouse gas accounting, including how to measure Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.
  • How to set corporate commitments on climate action, and how to report against those goals.
  • A region-specific overview of trading, consumption and distribution for each energy market, including the "key government agencies to engage early and often."
  • Strategies for engaging policymakers and other stakeholders.

Gibbs said it will take 12 to 24 months for the program to reach the point where it involves hundreds of suppliers rather than dozens. The academy is in discussions with other companies interested in sponsoring the effort, he said.

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