Apple successfully drives suppliers to employ more Renewable Energy

Apple suppliers retain more than doubled their clean power over the past year, announced today. The renewable energy projects they support controlled 13.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution from penetrating the atmosphere.

The company says that that has almost the identical impact as taking 3 million cars off the road for a year. It’s part of Apple’s actions to restrain climate change by evolving carbon neutral by 2030.

The company’s climate commitment in 2020 set it on a path to reduce greenhouse emissions by 75 percent this decade and find modes to draw down its remaining climate pollution.

Unlike other companies that have only pledged to eliminate pollution from their straightforward operations and electricity use, Apple has pushed a step farther by promising to slice emissions from its supply chains and its customers’ use of the products. That’ll be the most significant lift for the company since those indirect emissions make up most of its carbon footprint.

On top of having a more significant impact than focusing solely on the company’s operations, gutting supply chain emissions has a bonus of pushing other companies to cleanse up their act. Apple issues an annual list of its top suppliers, who get about 98 percent of Apple’s money on materials, manufacturing, and assembly.

About 60 percent of those significant suppliers are on Apple’s list of companies committed to making Apple products employ “100 percent clean electricity” globally. In addition, dozens of smaller suppliers have made similar commitments.

However, claims of using “100 percent clean electricity” aren’t so straightforward. For example, Apple announced in 2018 that it had started using 100 percent renewable energy, but that doesn’t mean that its stores and offices were driving on wind and solar power all the time. Most grids don’t have sufficient renewable energy capacity and aren’t wired to provide that to anyone customer.

Companies often buy Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from energy providers, which represent the environmental benefits of renewable energy projects, to offset their dirty electricity use. Apple buys these credits, and so do its suppliers.

In 2021, just under 80 percent of its suppliers’ renewable energy “procurement” purchased renewable energy from providers. RECs made up another 8 percent. Another 10 percent of procurement efforts went towards direct investments in new renewable energy projects. And 3 percent went towards renewable electricity generated on-site at a supplier’s facilities.

Apple’s Supplier Clean Energy Program purchased credits equivalent to 360,000 metric tons of carbon emissions to “address a small increase to its carbon footprint” in today’s update on the program.