Apple on Wednesday announced the biggest clean energy commitment it has received from its suppliers, which comes from U.S. manufacturer Jabil Circuit Inc with facilities in China.
Seven of Apple's suppliers had previously committed to 100 percent renewable energy use, most of them Chinese manufacturers. "We see real momentum here. Jabil has already achieved 67 percent renewable energy for its Apple production, so the work they are doing now is really advancing the green transition in China," Lisa Jackson, vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives at Apple, told Xinhua.
Jabil makes a number of components for Apple, primarily the aluminum housing for iPhone, along with plastic, silicone and stainless steel parts, across seven facilities on the Chinese mainland and Taiwan.
According to Jackson, Jabil has installed solar power generation facilities onsite, and it has also entered into power purchase agreements with wind projects. Jabil's commitment represents the single largest commitment by a supplier to date, nearly 1 billion megawatt-hours per year, and will bring it to 100 percent renewable energy by 2018, according to Apple.
Apple launched its supplier clean energy program in 2015 to help address the emissions in its manufacturing supply chain, which represents 77 percent of its overall carbon footprint. Apple is already powering 96 percent of its global operations with renewable energy, and is at 100 percent in the United States, China and 22 other countries.
However, U.S. President Donald Trump's recent decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord has cast a shadow over the achievements already made by Apple and other businesses in the United States. Jackson told Xinhua that Apple will maintain its clean energy program.
"Businesses have a huge role to play in global problems like climate change. We know climate change is real and it is part of our business responsibility to fight it. The program is good for our planet and it's something our customers expect," said Jackson, who is also the former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Jackson applauded China's leading role in climate change negotiations and said it is no easy job for China to both honor its commitment of reaching its maximum carbon output by 2030 and maintain robust economic growth.
"China has taken several steps since the Paris Accord was signed in 2015, which makes it clear it is trying to surpass the goals it has set. Clean energy transition in a country that is as large, with as much heavy manufacturing and diversity as China, is a challenge," said Jackson.
It requires thinking of not just generation but also transmission, making sure clean energy can get to the businesses and people who need it, as well as continuing growth, Jackson added.
In many ways, companies like Apple which have suppliers and customers around the globe cannot afford to see national boundaries. They have to work worldwide to effect change. Jackson said support from the Chinese government has helped speed up change.
"Apple has already installed nearly 500 megawatts of wind and solar projects across six Chinese provinces. I don't think you can make that kind of progress in just over a year, without Chinese government support at all levels," said Jackson.
The tech giant will partner with suppliers in China to install more than 2 gigawatts of new clean energy facilities in the coming years, which will prevent over 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution between now and 2020.
Apple wants all suppliers to be part of its clean energy movement. In April, three Chinese suppliers, Sunwoda, Compal and Biel, joined the clean energy program, doing their part to pave the way for the growth of the renewable energy sector in China.
"They are now environmental green energy leaders, they are committing to a bluer sky and healthier workers and communities in China and also helping to deal with global problem of climate change. We hope our suppliers will work with their own suppliers to achieve the exponential environmental effect in the future," said Jackson.