×

Apple’s Tim Cook: Act now on climate change

Apple is planning to build 200 megawatts worth of solar projects in China and is pushing its suppliers to go green amid ongoing criticism that its local partners cause heavy pollution.

The Cupertino, CA firm said its solar projects will be built across northern, eastern and southern China and produce the equivalent of the energy used by more by than 265,000 Chinese homes in a year and will "begin to offset the energy used in Apple's supply chain".

On top of this, Foxconn, a key Apple supplier, will build 400 megawatts of solar projects in the Henan Province by 2018. Foxconn said it has committed to generate as much clean energy as its Zhengzhou factory consumes in final production of iPhone.

"Climate change is one of the great challenges of our time, and the time for action is now," Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, said in a statement.

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Getty Images
Apple CEO Tim Cook

"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 it will partner with suppliers in China to install more than 2 gigawatts of new clean energy in the coming years.

The technology giant also said the construction of 40 megawatts of solar projects in the Sichuan Province, which it had previously announced, is now complete. Apple said that it is now "carbon neutral" because the solar installations produce more than the total amount of electricity used by Apple's offices and retail stores in China.

Past criticism

China is crucial for Apple and is the company's second-biggest market by revenue.

But Apple has received criticism in the past over its relationship with its suppliers in the world's second-largest economy.

A report by the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in 2011 accused Apple's suppliers of causing severe pollution that endangered the public's health and safety. And last year, a report by watchdog group China Labor Watch claimed there were unsafe working conditions at factories where Apple components are made.

"Last year we conducted 451 audits deep into our supply chain so we could uncover problems and work with our suppliers to fix them, and we make it a priority to investigate every specific concern brought to our attention," Apple said in a statement at the time.

Apple has been focusing on sustainable energy in other parts of the world too. On its home turf, it has partnered with First Solar to build a $850 million solar energy farm in California.

The company said that currently it powers 100 percent of its operations in China and the U.S., and more than 87 percent of its worldwide operations, with renewable energy.