Apple Takes Commie ‘Environmentalist’ Attitude to China

| Editorial

Apple is stepping up its already aggressive environmental game in China. The company announced Thursday an initiative aimed to reduce the carbon footprint of both itself and its manufacturing partners. Apple said it had constructed a 40 megawatt solar power plant in Sichuan Province, and that it would help its manufacturers install 2 gigawatts of clean energy production in "the coming years."

Apple in China

"Climate change is one of the great challenges of our time, and the time for action is now," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. "The transition to a new green economy requires innovation, ambition and purpose. We believe passionately in leaving the world better than we found it and hope that many other suppliers, partners and other companies join us in this important effort."

Apple said that the two programs combined would "avoid" (a curious, though honest word) 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution between now and 2020. It said that was the equivalent of taking almost 4 million cars off the road for one year—doing the math, that's more like 800,000 cars per year during the time frame Apple cited.

If you stop and think about it, the irony in this announcement is rich. Many on the political right in the U.S. equate environmentalism with the "commies," yet actually-Communist China has few regulations designed to protect its environment, and even fewer that are actually enforced.

In the meanwhile, the most successful capitalist company on the planet has been busting hump to meet or exceed environmental regulations everywhere it operates, including China. The company has in prior years touted clean water programs, toxic chemical elimination, and a host of other environmental and worker-friendly programs that go far beyond the scope of what is required by law in those countries.

"Being responsible, protecting air and water, and driving clean energy are at the heart of Apple’s commitment to China," Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, said. "These projects go beyond Apple’s operations in China to help our suppliers adopt clean renewable energy."

Apple said that it powers 100 percent of its operations in China and the U.S. with renewable energy—that's an astounding accomplishment. Globally, Apple claimed that 87 percent of its worldwide operations were powered with renewable energy.

Now if only Apple's competitors would copy that.

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Comments

geoduck

Apple said that it powers 100 percent of its operations in China and the U.S. with renewable energy

Not that I doubt the claim, but I wonder how they got at that figure. OK their server farms have solar cells etc., but fore example, how about the Apple Stores? They’re in malls and use power off of the grid. Does this mean they make enough surplus from their other sites to offset?

Nom

“If you stop and think about it, the irony in this announcement is rich. Many on the political right in the U.S. equate environmentalism with the “commies,” yet actually-Communist China has few regulations designed to protect its environment, and even fewer that are actually enforced”

I’ve never heard anyone credible claim that socialism leads to environmentalism.  The specific claim is typically that environmentalism is being used as a lever to increase state control, with the less stated assumption that this is a bad thing.  China doesn’t need to do that because they already have a surplus of state control.

Analogy: “eggs break when you hit them with pillows, which ends up with lots of broken eggs, like in China”.  “China hits their eggs with hammers but not pillows; this proves eggs don’t break when you hit them with pillows”.  An actual rebuttal should argue that “pillows don’t break eggs” (e.g. environmentalism doesn’t lead to more state control) or “our broken eggs are a good thing - like a cake or omelette” (e.g. more state control isn’t inherently bad) or both.

That said, Apple seems to be using their size and influence to find better ways to do things, so all credit to them.  Over time, these innovations tend to percolate down.  Often, the imperative isn’t moral (“you should do that”) but practical (“this is cheaper and better”).

skipaq

I have been curious about solar energy for a long time. The company I am currently working for is in the early stage of building its’ first solar array. Many acres of trees have been clear cut and the habitat has since been stripped and bulldozed level. That seems to contradict the “greenness” of this project. The more I thought about this questions about just how many millions of acres will need to be denuded to make us totally “green”.

As far as 100% in the US. Not yet for Apple. Their products are shipped to the US and delivered within the US using fossil fuels. Their employees go to work using the same fuels. The development properties are built using the same. The raw materials used in their products are mined, smelted, transported and so on largely using fossil fuels.

While I am still curios about solar; I am still concerned about the ecological damage these projects have on the land.

Lee Dronick

Skipaq I suppose that the greeness of it has to do with how green is the area. We don’t have a lot of trees here in San Diego, but we are putting up lot of solar panels. The community college up the street has quite a few of them over the parking lots where they also shade vehicles. The San Diego Zoo has some in its parking lot. Out in the farm areas they are putting them up in grazing lands, they are spaced enough to let plenty of sunlight onto the grasses.

skipaq

Thanks, Lee. I can see areas where this makes a lot of sense. It certainly makes sense here in Florida - the Sunshine State. Yet there are a lot of projects here and most involve clear cutting, bulldozing and other land change methods. I am not against all development; but it can go too far. It just seems ironic to see this green project here turn the land naked and brown. I had the same thoughts when I saw the photos of Apple’s project in the Carolinas.

kimhill

“Many on the political right in the U.S. equate environmentalism with the ‘commies’”

Huh? “Commies”? Where does your vocabulary even come from? I guess that the political axe you have … won’t grind itself.

It was already time to trim my RSS feeds. Goodbye, MacObserver…

geoduck

kimhill
Sorry to see you go but apparently you’ve not been paying attention. Obama was called a Communist by the Republican Right. The C-Word has been used by Koch supported groups regularly in regards to environmental and climate change movements. It’s deep in the extreme right’s psyche to pull out the term for anything they feel challenges their corporatist status quo.

jackadoodle

Not that I necessarily believe it, but your article would support the point of people who say Communists support environmentalism for the USA. Notice the Communists don’t apply it to themselves, but they burden the USA with it to slow the USA down - to make US business more expensive to run, more saddled with regulations, less competitive.

So your article kinda supports that view. As for me?  I don’t think it’s a proven fact that environmentalism for the USA comes from Communists. But it is an interesting thing to consider.

ctopher

Getting back to the issue of electricity….

When I first heard this, the reporter commented that the electrical grid is pretty shaky in China and they wondered about how well this could be implemented given the poor infrastructure.

As someone who has seen production lines come to a standstill in China for this very reason, I was guessing that Apple would not feed the grid, but go around it. This seems like a good way to ensure supply to Apple. A win-win if you will.

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