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Apple Now Globally Powered by 100% Renewables

Renewable Energy
Apple's Cupertino headquarters features a 17-megawatt solar installation. Apple

In its continued efforts to "combat climate change and create a healthier environment," Apple announced Monday that its global facilities are now powered with 100 percent clean energy.

All of the tech giant's retail stores, offices, data centers and co-located facilities in 43 countries use renewable energy sources, upping the ante from 93 percent two years ago.


"We're committed to leaving the world better than we found it. After years of hard work we're proud to have reached this significant milestone," said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a statement.

"We're going to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the materials in our products, the way we recycle them, our facilities and our work with suppliers to establish new creative and forward-looking sources of renewable energy because we know the future depends on it."

To be clear, it's just Apple's own operations that are running on 100 percent renewables. Its entire global supply chain—which makes parts and accessories for Apple's products—is still working on it. However, the company said it has convinced 23 total manufacturing partners to make the transition.

Additionally, it's not like every single Apple Store generates its own green electricity from, say, a solar rooftop. These stores are usually connected to a municipal power grid, and it's not possible to ensure the electricity is entirely free of fossil fuels.

But the tech titan is able to claim its "100 percent renewable" accolade because it purchases Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) from green-energy producers and has built its own renewable energy facilities around the world, totaling 626 megawatts of generation capacity. Last year, 286 megawatts of solar PV generation came online, its most ever in one year.

Apple also has 15 more projects down the line. Once complete, over 1.4 gigawatts of clean renewable energy generation will be spread across 11 countries.

Solar panels mounted high off the ground in China allows yaks to eat the grass growing underneath. Apple

The iPhone maker has also created an energy subsidiary in Delaware called Apple Energy LLC to sell surplus electricity generated by its various renewable energy projects.

"Since 2011, all of Apple's renewable energy projects have reduced greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e) by 54 percent from its facilities worldwide and prevented nearly 2.1 million metric tons of CO2e from entering the atmosphere," the company touted.

A number of IT corporations have taken major strides in reducing their carbon footprint. Last month, Microsoft announced the single largest corporate purchase of solar power ever seen in the U.S. Google also announced last week that toward the end of 2017, it reached its goal to run on 100 percent renewable energy.

Former Vice President Al Gore, a member of Apple's board of directors, celebrated the news.

"Apple is proving the business case for reducing greenhouse emissions and simultaneously reducing energy costs," he tweeted. "All of its facilities are now powered by 100 percent clean energy!"

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Protestors marched outside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Monday, August 26, during the MTV Video and Music Awards to bring attention to the water crisis currently gripping the city. Karla Ann Cote / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Will Sarni

It is far too easy to view scarcity and poor quality of water as issues solely affecting emerging economies. While the images of women and children fetching water in Africa and a lack of access to water in India are deeply disturbing, this is not the complete picture.

The city of Flint, Michigan, where dangerous levels of pollutants contaminated the municipal water supply, is a case in point — as is, more recently, the city of Newark, New Jersey.

The Past is No Longer a Guide to the Future

We get ever closer to "day zeros" — the point at when municipal water supplies are switched off — and tragedies such as Flint. These are not isolated stories. Instead they are becoming routine, and the public sector and civil society are scrambling to address them. We are seeing "day zeros" in South Africa, India, Australia and elsewhere, and we are now detecting lead contamination in drinking water in cities across the U.S.

"Day zero" is the result of water planning by looking in the rear-view mirror. The past is no longer a guide to the future; water demand has outstripped supplies because we are tied to business-as-usual planning practices and water prices, and this goes hand-in-hand with the inability of the public sector to factor the impacts of climate change into long-term water planning. Lead in drinking water is the result of lead pipe service lines that have not been replaced and in many cases only recently identified by utilities, governments and customers. An estimated 22 million people in the US are potentially using lead water service lines. This aging infrastructure won't repair or replace itself.

One of the most troubling aspects of the global water crisis is that those least able to afford access to water are also the ones who pay a disproportionately high percentage of their income for it. A report by WaterAid revealed that a standard water bill in developed countries is as little as 0.1 percent of the income of someone earning the minimum wage, while in a country like Madagascar a person reliant on a tanker truck for their water supply would spend as much as 45 percent of their daily income on water to get just the recommended daily minimum supply. In Mozambique, families relying on black-market vendors will spend up to 100 times as much on water as those reached by government-subsidized water supplies.

Finally, we need to understand that the discussion of a projected gap between supply and demand is misleading. There is no gap, only poor choices around allocation. The wealthy will have access to water, and the poor will pay more for water of questionable quality. From Flint residents using bottled water and paying high water utility rates, to the poor in South Africa waiting in line for their allocation of water — inequity is everywhere.

Water Inequity Requires Global Action — Now.

These troubling scenarios beg the obvious question: What to do? We do know that ongoing reports on the 'water crisis' are not going to catalyze action to address water scarcity, poor quality, access and affordability. Ensuring the human right to water feels distant at times.

We need to mobilize an ecosystem of stakeholders to be fully engaged in developing and scaling solutions. The public sector, private sector, NGOs, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and civil society must all be engaged in solving water scarcity and quality problems. Each stakeholder brings unique skills, scale and speed of impact (for example, entrepreneurs are fast but lack scale, while conversely the public sector is slow but has scale).

We also urgently need to change how we talk about water. We consistently talk about droughts happening across the globe — but what we are really dealing with is an overallocation of water due to business-as-usual practices and the impacts of climate change.

We need to democratize access to water data and actionable information. Imagine providing anyone with a smartphone the ability to know, on a real-time basis, the quality of their drinking water and actions to secure safe water. Putting this information in the hands of civil society instead or solely relying on centralized regulatory agencies and utilities will change public policies.

Will Sarni is the founder and CEO of Water Foundry.

Note: This post also appears on the World Economic Forum.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Circle of Blue.

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