Apple CEO Tim Cook sat down with UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres today at Climate Week NYC to discuss Apple’s concerns when it comes to climate change, and what the company is doing to address the situation. Cook summed up his company’s efforts by saying that Apple needs to be “one of the pebbles in the pond that creates the ripple,” refer to inspiring a broader effort to improve environmental practice among tech industry leaders.
“You look at what are the root causes, and you’re not accepting that there’s a trade-off between the economy and the environment,” he said in the interview. “If you innovate and you set the bar high, you will find a way to do both. and that you must do both, because the long-term consequences of not addressing the environment are huge.”
Cook said that this attitude of not compromising is something that Apple has already had plenty of practice with when it comes to their product design and development process, which is why it makes sense to apply it here, too.
“That’s the reason that everyone at Apple […] is not accepting that you have to pick this or this,” If we took that kind of approach to our product, we would never make a great compromise. the truth is that you can’t compromise.”
As an example of Apple’s environmental policy leadership, he cited the new headquarters currently under construction in Cupertino, which Cook said he expects to be one of the greenest buildings on the planet. He also pointed to its data centers, which use renewable energy for power, and to their efforts all the way down the supply chain in keeping their partners in line. Cook said that this requires real, hands-on work.
It’s dirty and it’s detailed work,” he said of their supply chain audits and partner responsibility programs. “It’s rolling your sleeves up. it’s not esoteric and theory, it’s real work and real projects.”
Cook’s general advice for how to improve the state of the tech industry and its overall contribution to climate change situation improvements are best summed up as a call for greater transparency. Without calling anyone out directly, Cook still managed to challenge Apple’s competitors to do more in terms of making their environmental effects part of the public record.
“I think companies have to communicate, to consumers, about what they’re selling, and they have to do it in a way that communicates the whole of their footprint, and not just the one part they’re looking good on, but all of it,” he said. “And I think that if you do, I’m an optimist, I think that if you do that consumers are smart and the vast majority of the world wants to do the right thing, so I think [transparency] will drive desired consumer behavior. if you have enough companies that begin to do that, I think consumers will vote with their dollars.”
Apple’s own environmental efforts have earned it a significant amount of praise from Greenpeace lately, where it currently ranks as a top performer among major tech companies, especially regarding use of renewable energy.