With so much debate and back a forth policy, going green can feel like both an impossible and almost fantastical goal. Yet, the largest tech giants in the world, many of which are so huge they are the size of a small nation, are going green at astonishing rates. With market values in the hundreds of billions, the sheer size of these modern corporate empires is not holding them back from making huge strides towards reducing our global emissions. So, what can our prime ministers and leaders learn from the likes of Tim Cook (CEO, Apple), Zuckerberg (CEO, Facebook) and Jeff Bezos (CEO, Amazon)?
Apple recently celebrated its 40 year anniversary alongside a keynote address, and in true Apple style it was no small affair. Only Apple could summon such excitement over a revamped Iphone 5S and a few new watch bands. Apple also took the time to update us on how they were going with achieving the goal they set themselves in 2014, of being 100% carbon neutral worldwide. Right now Apple is currently running on 93% renewable power globally, which at a time where our Governments are struggling reach 20% reliance on renewables, is an impressive achievement. In fact they have achieved 100% reliance on renewable energy in the US as well as in China. In fact Apple is running on clean power in 23 countries around the world including Australia. So how are they doing it? Well for a lot of places, it’s really quite simple; they just invested the extra dollars to make sure they bought only from renewable sources of energy such as solar farms and wind farms. However, they did go the extra step by building their own large scale solar farms where there was no other option. In fact in Singapore they had to install solar panels on the roofs of 800 buildings to ensure they would be 100% green.
Apple has a way of being able to goad the public into thinking they have been innovators and industry leaders all along, while everyone else tagged behind, and in this case it is in some ways true. However, Microsoft casually reminded the public it had been 100% carbon neutral inside the US since 2014. A number of other companies have also been achieving similarly impressive targets. So while it's important to give credit where credit is due, it's also important to make mention of the many other companies doing exactly what Apple is, only in a more understated way.
Alongside Microsoft, Intel has also achieved 100% clean energy usage in the US. Surprisingly though Google is only sitting at 34%, the argument being that they simply use a larger amount of storage, making it all the more difficult to secure renewable sources of energy all the time. Stanford Research Fellow Jonathan Koomey put it this way, “Apple's data centre needs are smaller than giants like Google and Amazon, but Apple should be commended for pushing to 100 percent renewable electricity."
The reason Apple stands out from the rest is that they are aiming to be 100% worldwide, which hasn't been achieved by a company of this size. Hopefully Apple will set the standard for many other tech companies like Samsung who is currently only using 8% renewable power. This is more important than it sounds as tech companies, due to their huge server farms, chew up enormous amounts of electricity, which was until recently generated using cheap traditional fuels.
"Apple has certainly worked hard to source renewable energy for its facilities in the US and abroad," says Letha Tawney Director of Utility Innovation at the World Resources Institute. She also pointed out that Apple was the only company to receive a perfect energy efficiency scorecard. So maybe this time it's not just hype and Apple really is using innovation to change the world for the better; but it's time our governments take note and push for more companies to follow suit.