Apple Pledges Carbon Neutrality by 2030
The computer and phone giant Apple pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030, following the lead of other tech companies dedicated to mitigating their impact on the climate crisis. Apple's commitment extends to its massive supply chain, which supplies computers, tablets and iPhones to customers around the world.
Apple, which has already achieved carbon neutrality for its corporate operations, said the new commitment means that every iPhone, MacBook and iPad sold will have no climate impact, as The Washington Post reported.
The company has several strategies for achieving its goal to wipe out its carbon footprint in the next decade. It will shift towards a low-carbon product design and use recycled materials as much as possible. It will develop new techniques in manufacturing, like a carbon-free aluminum smelting process, as The Guardian reported.
Apple will also ramp up its use of renewable energy for projects funded by and built for Apple. The company will also remove carbon from the atmosphere through reforestation projects in Colombia, China, Kenya and the U.S., according to The Guardian.
That means Apple plans to reduce emissions by 75 percent by 2030 while developing innovative carbon removal solutions for the remaining 25 percent of its comprehensive footprint, according to a press release.
"Businesses have a profound opportunity to help build a more sustainable future, one born of our common concern for the planet we share," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, in a press release. "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."
In addition to the announcement about its plan to be carbon neutral in a decade, the company released its 2020 Environmental Progress Report on Tuesday. Apple said it slashed its carbon dioxide emissions by 4.3 million metric tons in 2019. That represents a 35 percent drop in absolute carbon dioxide emissions since the company's peak in 2015. It has achieved the reduction while still selling more products, as The Verge reported. Apple has been able to cut back on its greenhouse gas emissions by using recycled materials and improving the energy efficiency of its products. Its products use 73 percent less energy on average now than they did 11 years ago.
"This is a moment not to move away from the great challenge of climate change," Lisa Jackson, Apple vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, told CNN Business. "We wanted to step up and show we should all move even faster if we can because the situation is urgent and continuing to be more urgent."
However, as CNN noted, the company has not actually shared that data with scientists for independent verification. And, as The Verge pointed out, Apple is still an energy behemoth. It did emit 25.1 million metric tons of carbon in 2019, the equivalent to running six coal-fired power for the entire year.
The commitment did win praise from environmentalists. It marks a "significant step up from what we've seen from Apple in the past," said Elizabeth Jardim, senior corporate campaigner for Greenpeace USA, as The Washington Post reported. Cutting carbon emissions will "help prevent further catastrophic climate change — the impacts of which will fall most on Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities," she said.
"The world's largest and most profitable companies must act swiftly to minimize their reliance on fossil fuels throughout their operations by 2030 at the latest," Jardim said.
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By Simon Montlake
For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.
All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.
Moderates Feeling the Heat<p>If elected, Mr. Biden has vowed to stop new drilling for oil and gas on federal land and in federal waters and to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord that President Donald Trump gave notice of quitting. He would reinstate Obama-era regulations of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, the largest component of natural gas.</p><p>The Biden climate platform also states that all federal infrastructure investments and federal permits would need to be assessed for their climate impacts. Analysts say such a test could impede future LNG plants and pipelines, though not those that already have federal approval. </p><p>Climate change activists who pushed for that language say much depends on who would have oversight of federal agencies that regulate the industry. Some are wary of Biden's reliance on advice from Obama-era officials, including former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is now on the board of Southern Company, a utility, and a former Obama environmental aide, Heather Zichal, who has served on the board of Cheniere Energy, an LNG exporter. </p>
The Push for U.S. Fuel Exports<p>As vice president, Biden was part of an administration that pushed hard for global climate action while also promoting U.S. oil and gas exports to its allies and trading partners. As fracking boomed, Obama ended a 40-year ban on crude oil exports. In Europe, LNG was touted both as an alternative to coal and as strategic competition with Russian pipelines.</p><p>That much, at least, continued with President Trump. Under Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the agency referred to liquified U.S. hydrocarbons as "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/us/freedom-gas-energy-department.html" target="_blank">freedom gas</a>."</p><p>Mr. Trump has also championed the interests of coal, oil, and gas while denigrating the findings of government climate scientists. He rejected the Paris accord as unfair to the U.S. and detrimental to its economy, but has offered no alternative path to emissions cuts. </p><p>Still, Trump's foreign policy has not always served the LNG industry: Tariffs on foreign steel drove up pipeline costs, and a trade war with China stayed the hand of Chinese LNG importers wary of reliance on U.S. suppliers. </p><p>Even his regulatory rollbacks could be a double-edged sword. By relaxing curbs last month on methane leaks, the U.S. has ceded ground to European regulators who are drafting emissions standards that LNG producers are watching closely. "That's a precursor of fights that will be fought in all the rest of the developed world," says Mr. Hutchison. </p><p>Indeed, some oil-and-gas exporters had urged the Trump administration not to abandon the tougher rules, since they undercut their claim to offer a cleaner-burning way of producing heat and electricity. "U.S. LNG is not going to be able to compete in a world that's focused on methane emissions and intensity," says Erin Blanton, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. </p>
Stepping on the Gas<p>In July, the Department of Energy issued an export license to Jordan Cove's developer, Canada's Pembina Pipeline Corp. In a statement, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the project would provide "reliable, affordable, and cleaner-burning natural gas to our allies around the world."</p><p>As a West Coast terminal, Jordan Cove offers a faster route to Asia where its capacity of 7.8 million tons of LNG a year could serve to heat more than 15 million homes. At its peak, its construction would also create 6,000 jobs, the company says, in a stagnant corner of Oregon.</p><p>But the project still lacks multiple local and state permits, and its biggest asset – a Pacific port – has become its biggest handicap, says Ms. Blanton. "They are putting infrastructure in a state where there's no political support for the pipeline or the terminal, unlike in Louisiana or Texas," she says. </p><p>Ms. Brown, the environmental lawyer, says she wants to see Jordan Cove buried, not just mothballed until natural gas prices recover. But she knows that it's only one among many LNG projects and that others will likely get built, even if Biden is elected in November, despite growing evidence of the harm caused by methane emissions. </p>
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