Apple on the environment: Doing right for the planet is good for business

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Apple is all in on addressing climate change.

Ahead of Earth Day, Apple announced progress on some of its latest green initiatives, notably that it has nearly doubled the number of suppliers that have committed to run their Apple production on 100% clean energy, bringing the total number of those suppliers to 44.

This means Apple will exceed its goal of bringing 4 gigawatts of into its supply chain by 2020, with more than an additional gigawatt on the grid projected within that timeframe.

For context, 5 gigawatts of powers about 1.5 million homes in the U.S., says Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, who had been administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama.

A year ago, Apple announced that all of its global facilities are powered by 100% renewable energy. For the third year in a row, it has reduced its carbon footprint.

Apple also said it has achieved major progress to address environmental solutions by allocating all $2.5 billion in its previously announced green bonds. Through such allocations, Apple has contributed to 40 environment initiatives around the world, including includes projects it has created to cover its entire electricity load. As of this past January, around 66 percent of the renewable energy Apple uses comes from these endeavors.

The green bonds support various projects like solar rooftops in Japan, an aquifer to conserve water in Oregon and the creation of a custom alloy made of 100 percent recycled aluminum ore that is now found in Apple's latest MacBook Air and Mac mini computers.

Shortly after the U.S. pulled out of the Paris accord in 2017, "we wanted the world to know that we, Apple, are still in and still committed to tackling the challenge of ," Jackson says. She added that there is increased urgency by people, many who are younger, to tackle climate issues.

"We need to demonstrate that this is doable, possible and done and not keep talking about why it can't happen. And I think we're going to see more and more of that as climate change starts to take a toll on communities around the world."

Activism is already on display elsewhere.

On Wednesday, for example, more than 4,200 Amazon employees calling themselves Amazon Employees for Climate Justice wrote an open letter to CEO Jeff Bezos asking the company to adopt a shareholder resolution and release a company-wide climate plan. Among other principles, the group wants Amazon to completely move away from fossil fuels and to prioritize climate impact when making business decisions.

"In our mission to become 'Earth's most customer-centric company,' we believe our climate impact must be a top consideration in everything we do. We have the power to shift entire industries, inspire global action on climate, and lead on the issue of our lifetimes," the letter read.

Amazon has not yet responded to a USA TODAY email request for comment.

For her part, Jackson of Apple believes the has a role and that governments need to move faster. She says one of the toughest sectors to move on climate issues is manufacturing.

"We think we have a unique opportunity to move the planet forward by using our voice and lending support of strong climate action and working to send a clear message to lawmakers that renewable energy is good for business," she says. "We find ways for companies to do this where it's fine for their bottom line. (And) to dispel this notion that somehow doing right by the climate and the planet is somehow bad for business. It's not."

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