Just ahead of Earth Day, Apple has released a new ad and overhauled a section on its website designed to highlight its environmental initiatives, including the shrinking of its carbon footprint and the reduction of toxins and energy use in its products. The nearly two-minute-long video is narrated by none other than Apple CEO Tim Cook, who explains how the company has been aggressively shifting over to renewable energy. "Now more than ever we will work to leave the world better than we found it," Cook says.
Under Cook, Apple has increasingly drawn focus to its environmental initiatives, and it appears that it's now pushing toward being seen as a real leader on sustainability. The overhauled environment section on Apple's website now resembles a page advertising a new product more than a corporate initiative, with different sections breaking down the ways that Apple says it's making progress.
"We are proud of our progress."
In particular, Apple focuses on climate change, stating clearly: "We believe climate change is real." Cook recently scolded investors who wanted to see Apple drop its sustainability initiatives in order to focus more on profit, while effectively rejecting climate change. Apple seems to be expounding upon Cook's feelings here, acknowledging that as a major technology manufacturer it can be a significant contributor to climate change through carbon emissions.
To that end, the tone of the new video is not strictly celebratory. Cook and Apple's updated website repeatedly note that their efforts are still a work in progress. Apple has managed to turn its sustainability efforts into something meaningful quite quickly, however. Over the past several years, Apple has shifted from a company that was sternly criticized by Greenpeace for its use of "dirty energy" to a company that's been praised by Greenpeace for its use of renewable energy.
The video's release also coincides with an article published today in Wired, which finds Apple's environmental initiatives leader, former EPA chief Lisa Jackson, giving a tour of one of the fields of solar arrays that power Apple's data centers. Jackson has been at Apple for less than a year, but Apple is already coming close to meeting its standing goal of powering its facilities entirely with renewable energy. Wired reports that it's now at 94 percent.
Apple's new campus in Cupertino — often colloquially called the spaceship for its large circular design — will also be powered by renewable energy exclusively. City council members got a closer look at its environmental impact and the thought behind its design back in October from a video featuring Jackson and architect Norman Foster, and Apple has now brought this video online for everyone to see. The video also introduces David Muffly, Apple's senior arborist, who's overseeing the balance between the campus and the surrounding landscape.
Speaking to its initiatives overall, Jackson writes in an open letter on Apple's website that the company intends to keep the public updated on its path toward sustainability. "We have a long way to go," she writes, "but we are proud of our progress."
Update April 21st, 3:22PM: this article has been updated to mention Apple's Campus 2 video.