Could Apple — one of the world's largest, most successful and most visible companies — really become a fully net zero business by the end of the decade? The tech giant is increasingly confident it can, and this week unveiled a sweeping package of new investments and initiatives designed to slash emissions across its sprawling global supply chain.
Last month, Apple called on its global supply chain partners to take further steps to address their greenhouse gas emissions, as the tech giant pushed forward with its ambitions to achieve net zero across its value chain and the lifecycle of its products by 2030.
Setting out a raft of fresh steps and measures to decarbonize its supply chain, the global tech giant said it will evaluate the work of all of its major manufacturing partners in order to help decarbonize their Apple-related operations, including running on 100 percent renewable energy and tracking progress annually.
"Fighting climate change remains one of Apple's most urgent priorities, and moments like this put action to those words," said Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive officer. "We're looking forward to continued partnership with our suppliers to make Apple's supply chain carbon neutral by 2030. Climate action at Apple doesn't stop at our doors, and in this work, we're determined to be a ripple in the pond that creates a bigger change."
Apple claims it has been carbon neutral from all of its corporate operations since 2020 and said it is "laser-focused" on its ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral across its entire supply chain.
Apple said said it is 'laser-focused' on its ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral across its entire supply chain.
In addition to addressing emissions across its supply chain, Apple also revealed plans to facilitate the construction of large-scale solar and wind projects in Europe, with projects ranging between 30MW and 300MW.
The company said that over the coming years it aims to produce enough renewable energy to power all its devices on the continent with low-carbon electricity, as well as power its global portfolio of corporate offices, Apple stores and data centers with 100 percent clean energy.
In total, Apple estimated the planned investments will add around 3,000-gigawatt hours per year of renewable energy on the grid.
The latest investments in European renewables projects form part of Apple's wider strategy to address the estimated 22 percent of its carbon footprint which comes from the electricity which customers use to charge their Apple devices.
Wherever possible, Apple said it plans to bring clean energy projects online for national power grids that currently boast relatively high carbon intensity, so as to maximize its impact on a European electricity sector where new renewable generation capacity is "critically needed."
The company said it aims to power its global portfolio of corporate offices, Apple stores and data centers with 100% clean energy.
The strategy follows similar announcements earlier this year of new renewable energy projects in the U.S. and Australia which have similarly been designed to address emissions associated with customer product use.
The new projects build on Apple's existing portfolio of renewables projects and tariffs, which have been powering all its corporate offices, retail stores and data centers across 44 countries with renewable energy since 2018.
In addition, the company announced it is partnering with its worldwide supply chain to urge accelerated action to achieve carbon neutrality for partners' Apple-related corporate operations.
Moving forwards, the company said it will require its supply chain partners to report their progress on these goals and specifically Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions reductions related to Apple production as well as tracking and auditing annual progress.
Additionally, Apple said it is encouraging its suppliers to address the greenhouse gas emissions beyond the production of Apple products by prioritizing the sourcing of green energy.
As part of the company's work to achieve its 2030 goal, Apple said it has reduced its emissions by 40 percent since 2015, which it said it achieved largely through improvements in energy efficiency, low-carbon design, carbon neutrality across its corporate operations, and transitioning its supply chain to renewable electricity.
The company said it will require its supply chain partners to report their progress on these goals and specifically Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions reductions related to Apple production.
According to Apple, more than 200 of its suppliers representing more than 70 percent of its direct manufacturing spend have already committed to using clean power such as wind and solar for the production of all its products. To date, its suppliers are said to have brought more than 10GW of clean power online around the world
These manufacturing partners include companies Corning Incorporated, Nitto Denko Corporation, SK Hynix, STMicroelectronics, TSMC and Yuto. Apple said they have all committed to power the production of Apple products with 100 percent renewable energy.
In addition, Apple is offering its suppliers free e-learning resources and live training through its Clean Energy Program to help its suppliers and local partners identify opportunities and solutions for renewable energy and carbon removal projects across their supply chains.
The tech giant is also seeking to showcase its decarbonization push to its customers, having recently announced a new initiative in the U.S. called Clean Energy Charging which helps customers decrease the carbon footprint of their iPhones.
Available from this month through the iOS 16 platform, the new feature looks at the sources of electricity available during expected charge times and optimizes for when the grid is using cleaner energy sources such as solar or wind.
The new feature looks at the sources of electricity available during expected charge times and optimizes for when the grid is using cleaner energy sources such as solar or wind.
The innovation follows Apple's joining of the University of California, Berkley's CoolClimate Network, a research partnership founded to motivate and empower individuals to make more low-carbon choices.
At the same time, the company is looking to advance its carbon offset efforts, this week announcing three new projects from its Restore Fund — which Apple describes as a first-of-its kind carbon removal initiative that aims to generate financial returns while removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
In partnership with Conservation International and Goldman Sachs, Apple announced it has invested with three forestry managers in Brazil and Paraguay to restore 150,000 acres of sustainably certified working forests and protect around 100,000 acres of native forests, grasslands and wetlands.
Together, Apple estimates these initial forestry projects are forecast to remove 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in 2025. To ensure accurate monitoring, reporting and verification of the projects' carbon removal impact, Apple said it is working with partners to analyze satellite imagery and deploy innovative remote sensing technologies.
While Apple said it expected to make good progress to reduce its overall emissions by 75 percent by 2030, it explained it would look to prioritize nature-based solutions for the remaining 25 percent of emissions which it said were "unavoidable" with existing technologies.
In addition to the new Restore Fund projects announced this week, Apple unveiled a number of new partnerships which it said it hopes would advance "community-driven" climate solutions around the world. These include a new partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Namibia and Zimbabwe to promote climate resilience and sustainable livelihoods through the Climate Crowd program — a platform that works closely with communities facing the worst impacts of climate change.
These include a new partnership with the World Wildlife Fund in Namibia and Zimbabwe to promote climate resilience and sustainable livelihoods through the Climate Crowd program.
In China, Apple said it has partnered with China Green Carbon Foundation to conduct research, demonstrate best practices, and build stakeholder networks in support of goals to increase the amount and quality of responsibly managed nature-based carbon sinks.
Apple said the partnership will identify and map prioritized areas in Sichuan province, as well as develop best practice guidelines and methods for forest management that could be replicated in other regions. The company said it will also support a pilot in Chengdu to demonstrate carbon removal potential in urban and semi-urban areas, which will help establish best practices for carrying out carbon removal projects in urban areas of China, while improving climate adaptation and resilience.
In Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, Apple announced it is launching a new partnership with ChangemakerXchange to strengthen climate action and leadership in the region. By creating a network to connect, build, and promote youth-led climate innovation, Apple said it will help link solutions to funding opportunities and enhance climate leadership skills.
Apple said it formally will launch the initiative in Egypt at the COP27 Climate Summit next month, before supporting a group of 100 change-makers and social innovators, including 50 from Europe and 50 from the Middle East and North Africa.
Can Apple deliver on its hugely ambitious net zero targets? Critics will point to the huge and continued impact of the extractive minerals and metals industries that sit at the root of its supply chain, the huge levels of e-waste exacerbated by its practice of constantly upgrading its products, and its reliance on nature-based carbon removal projects that may or may not deliver on their promise, and question whether a brand that is synonymous with consumer culture can ever be truly low impact. But Apple will counter that it is investing billions of dollars and harnessing its world-leading technologies and culture of innovation to demonstrate how even the world's largest companies can slash their emissions inside a decade. Given the scale and reach of Apple's net zero efforts, it will be fascinating and hugely informative to watch its progress.