As the world continues towards the irreversible effects of climate change, countries like Germany, The Netherlands, and France are setting goals towards decelerating and mitigating the constant stream of heat-trapping green house gases in the atmosphere. These measure stretch from carbon taxes, renewable energy incentives, transportation sector overhauls, green architecture, and a shift from cradle to grave towards cradle to cradle manufacturing. Here in the U.S., we have laid out or own goals for reducing our emissions of green house gases. In 2009, The Obama Administration pledged that by 2050, the U.S. would reduce emissions by 80%. At the end of the day, carbon emissions break down to how a country produces and consumes energy. Barring political obstacles, this goal still requires a shift in energy consumption on the national level. This can take decades to organize, especially for a large country like the U.S. Therefore, the importance of corporate initiative cannot be overstated.
“Businesses have a profound opportunity to help build a more sustainable future" - Tim Cook, Apple CEO
With the massive amounts of revenue generated by Apple, a company valued at a near $1.7 trillion, combined with the agency of a company rather than a nation, Apple can choose their own time frame for making changes and going green. These changes are seen internally as more than a publicity stunt to attract wary environmental consumers consumers; they're seen as ways to build sustainable future with sustainable profits. To quote Apple CEO Tim Cook, “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.” By associating green technology and renewable energy with efficiency and "durable economic growth", Apple is making a statement to he world that this is the future they envision, and that others need follow suit to keep up.
For a company the size of Apple, carbon neutrality means more than a few solar arrays and switching to electric vehicles (although this is always a good start!). Green technology will need to be baked in to the products and services they provide every step along the way. This is something that Apple accounts for in theirClimate Roadmap.
Innovations include recycling of key materials, increased energy efficiency through the US-China Green fund, a company-wide retrofit of buildings with green architecture (LED lights, improved insulation, etc.), sourcing electricity from renewable sources, process and material innovations, tree planting, and more. Every step along the way, Apple looks to snip inefficiencies, or replace wasteful mechanisms in their supply chain. With 2030 having a benchmark target of 70% reductions, Apple looks to set these changes in motion as soon as possible. The coming years will be telling towards the success of this project. If properly executed, these shifts could accelerate the development of renewable sectors, and sway the momentum from coal and oil based economies towards an sustainable future.
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