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."
"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.