How Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook are branding themselves as environmentally friendly
Being environmentally friendly seemingly makes good business sense these days. When surveyed, the vast majority of people say they want to buy from environmentally friendly companies. When given the ability to check on sustainability, 75% used at least one strategy to check that information.
That goes for employees as well: a survey conducted in 2019 among employees of large companies in the US found that more than 70% of respondents said they would be more likely to work for a company with an environmental program. To be sure, there seems to be some cognitive dissonance here as most Americans don't even bother doing their small part. Only a third of Americans actually recycle. Moreover, carmakers, which are being forced to move toward a 100% electric vehicle world, are criticizing carbon goals as reality sinks in that electric vehicles actually need fossil fuels to run. Turns out, fossil fuels are the primary source of electricity.
Even so, while carmakers are starting to warn everyone that carbon goals are unrealistic, tech companies are trying to signal that they're staying obedient to this cause. Some 90% of executives think sustainability is important, and among those are the biggest companies, including Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple. In fact, they've made sustainability part of their brand as a company.
Here's some of the climate initiatives these companies have engaged in over the last few years:
- Amazon announced three new renewable energy projects as part of its long-term goal to power all Amazon Web Services global infrastructure with renewable energy. These projects, one in Ireland, one in Sweden, and one in the United States, were set to deliver wind-generated energy that will total over 229 megawatts, of power, with expected generation of over 670,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy annually.
- Amazon announced the company’s 65th and 66th renewable energy projects, including its newest renewable energy project in the EU, located in Cork, Ireland, its second Amazon Wind Farm in the Republic of Ireland. Its newest renewable energy project in the U.S. was located in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, and was the seventh Amazon Solar Farm in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- Amazon and Global Optimism co-founded The Climate Pledge, with the goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. Signatories of The Climate Pledge agree to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions on a regular basis; implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement; and neutralize any remaining emissions with additional, quantifiable, real, permanent, and socially-beneficial offsets.
- Amazon announced three new renewable energy projects in the US and UK that support Amazon’s commitment to The Climate Pledge and reaching 80% renewable energy by 2024 and 100% renewable energy target by 2030 on its path to net zero carbon by 2040. That included its newest renewable energy project in Europe, the largest corporate wind power purchase agreement in the UK, located on the Kintyre Peninsula, Scotland, and new renewable energy solar projects in the US located in Warren County, North Carolina, and Prince George County, Virginia.
- Amazon announced the Climate Pledge Fund to support the development of sustainable technologies and services, with an initial $2 billion in funding. The first companies to be funded were CarbonCure Technologies, Pachama, Redwood Materials, Rivian, and Turntide Technologies.
- Amazon announced a $10 million grant to conserve, restore, and support sustainable forestry, wildlife and nature-based solutions across the Appalachian Mountains, in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy.
- Amazon launched Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products.
- Amazon announced nine new utility-scale wind and solar energy projects in the U.S., Canada, Spain, Sweden, and the UK, making it the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in Europe, with more than 2.5 GW of renewable energy capacity, enough to power more than two million European homes a year.
- Amazon announced the launch of the Agroforestry and Restoration Accelerator in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, a global environmental organization, to create a more sustainable source of income for thousands of local farmers in the Brazilian Amazonian state of Pará, while also restoring native rainforests and fighting climate change by naturally trapping and storing carbon.
- Amazon announced 18 new utility-scale wind and solar energy projects across the U.S., Finland, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK, totaling 5.6 gigawatts of procured capacity to date in 2021, giving the company 274 renewable energy projects globally
- Amazon announced that the company signed an agreement with Plug Power to supply 10,950 tons per year of green hydrogen for its transportation and building operations starting in 2025.
- Amazon and Water.org today announced a partnership to help launch the Water.org Water & Climate Fund focused on climate-resilient water and sanitation solutions that will result in lasting access for 100 million people across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
- Amazon announced an expansion of its renewable energy portfolio globally, with an additional 2.7 gigawatts of clean energy capacity across 71 new renewable energy projects.
- Amazon signed an agreement with renewable fuels technology company Infinium to begin powering Amazon’s transportation fleet with ultra-low carbon electrofuels beginning in 2023.
- Amazon and the U.S. Agency for International Development launched a public-private partnership to address the gender inequities that exist for women in the climate finance ecosystem and support female entrepreneurs with the resources they need to accelerate climate change innovations. Amazon commited a total of $53 million to help accelerate women’s climate solutions, including $3 million toward the USAID partnership and $50 million for Amazon to invest directly in climate tech companies run by women.
- Amazon Web Services announced it will be water positive (water+) by 2030, returning more water to communities than it uses in its direct operations.
- Amazon announced its first investments in direct air capture, supporting the world’s largest deployment of DAC technology by committing to purchase 250,000 metric tons of carbon removal over 10 years from STRATOS, 1PointFive’s first DAC plant.
- Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund invested in CarbonCapture Inc., a climate technology company recognized for its modular DAC systems
- The Climate Pledge launched Laneshift, a partnership to tackle carbon emissions through zero-emission freight by reimagining medium- and heavy-duty shipping vehicles and the routes they travel.
- Apple today announced an expansion of its recycling programs, quadrupling the number of locations US customers can send their iPhone to be disassembled by Daisy, its recycling robot.
- The Apple-launched China Clean Energy Fund invested in three wind farms
- Apple announced it nearly doubled the number of suppliers that committed to run its Apple production on 100 percent clean energy, bringing the total number to 44.
- Apple unveiled its plan to become carbon neutral across its entire business, manufacturing supply chain, and product life cycle by 2030
- Apple announced it will invest in the construction of two of the world’s largest onshore wind turbines located near the Danish town of Esbjerg.
- Apple announced over 110 of its manufacturing partners around the world are moving to 100% renewable energy for their Apple production, with nearly 8 gigawatts of planned clean energy set to come online. Once completed, these commitments will avoid over 15 million metric tons of CO2e annually — the equivalent of taking more than 3.4 million cars off the road each year. Additionally, Apple is investing directly in renewable energy projects to cover a portion of upstream emissions, as well as a major energy storage project in California to pilot new solutions for renewable infrastructure.
- Apple announced a carbon removal initiative, called the Restore Fund, to make investments in forestry projects to remove carbon from the atmosphere while generating a financial return for investors. Launched with Conservation International and Goldman Sachs, Apple’s $200 million fund aims to remove at least 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually from the atmosphere.
- Apple released new details on the increased use of recycled content across its products. For the first time, the company introduced certified recycled gold, and more than doubled the use of recycled tungsten, rare earth elements, and cobalt. Nearly 20% of all material used in Apple products in 2021 was recycled.
- Apple called on its global supply chain to take new steps to address their greenhouse gas emissions and take a comprehensive approach to decarbonization. The company said it would evaluate the work of its major manufacturing partners to decarbonize their Apple-related operations — including running on 100 percent renewable electricity — and track yearly progress.
- Apple announced new partnerships and support for global efforts to engage communities in environmental solutions, including work aligned with Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, including with Conservation International, the Afro-InterAmerican Forum on Climate Change, the Society of Entrepreneurs and Ecology Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, and Beyond Benign.
- Apple announced an expansion of its Restore Fund, doubling the company’s total commitment to advancing high-quality, nature-based carbon removal projects.
- Apple announced its first-ever carbon neutral products in its new Apple Watch lineup
- Google and the municipality of Amsterdam announced a partnership to gain insight into the city’s air quality at the street level.
- Google announced that for the second year in a row it first reached it goal of buying enough renewable energy to match 100% of its global annual electricity use
- Google revealed that it made the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history, including 1,600-megawatt of wind and solar and 18 new energy deals.
- Google announced a new carbon-intelligent computing platform, designed and deployed for its data centers to shift the timing of many compute tasks to when low-carbon power sources, like wind and solar, are most plentiful.
- Google issued $5.75 billion in sustainability bonds, the largest sustainability or green bond by any company in history
- Google eliminated its entire carbon legacy, covering all of its operational emissions before it became carbon neutral in 2007), through the purchase of high-quality carbon offsets.
- ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, with grant support from Google.org, funded six projects, which will use actionable data to test new strategies that can reduce emissions and improve air quality in cities across Europe.
- Google launched the Google for Startups Accelerator: Climate Change for climate-focused technology startups across Canada and the United States.
- Google became the first cloud service to share data that helps customers to fully decarbonize apps and infrastructure, through insights on how often each Google Cloud region was supplied by carbon-free energy on an hourly basis.
- Google pledged to a water stewardship target to replenish more water than it consumes by 2030 and to support water security in communities where it operates.
- Google announced the first version of the Global Fibre Impact Explorer, a tool built on Google Earth Engine that uses Google Cloud computing, which assesses the environmental risk of different fibers across regions as it relates to environmental factors such as air pollution, biodiversity, climate and greenhouse gasses, forestry and water use.
- Google, revealed that by 2025 it aims to cut food waste in half for each Googler and send zero food waste to the landfill.
- Google unveiled new Chromebooks made with recycled materials, which are easy to customize, repair and upgrade.
- Google announced that its real estate and ecology teams were working to bring nature back into the built environment, in part by restoring critical habitats like oak woodlands and willow groves across our Bay Area campuses.
- Google co-funded a pilot project to install water-saving technology in three multi-family buildings in Los Angeles.
- Google announced the Google Carbon Removals Research Awards to support academic research focused on carbon removal approaches.
- Google announced a $5 million grant and Google.org Fellowship to Woodwell Climate Research Center to help them deploy satellite imagery and AI technology to track permafrost thaw in near real-time.
- Facebook was recognized as the number one corporate buyer of renewable energy in the US by the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, and number 2 in the world by Bloomberg NEF
- Facebook partnered with global organizations, including the World Resources Institute and Yale University, to launch the Climate Conversation Map, which marry data science research, computing power and aggregated, anonymized platform data to summarize and map the prevalence of these conversations and provide insight into where, when and how often people share or react to links related to climate change on Facebook.
- Facebook added a Climate InfoFinder and Climate Science Literacy Campaign to it suite of tools, such as fact checking and labels, to help combat climate misinformation.
It also began testing Climate Pledges in Facebook Groups to empower communities to take action against climate change with the help of expert-backed solutions.
- Facebook announced a new Climate Science Information Center to connect people with science-based information, and a new net zero emissions target for the company’s value chain.
- Facebook expanded its informational labels to some posts about climate change in Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Nigeria, South Africa and the US.
- Facebook joined the EU Climate Pact and outlined four pledges for how it will help people take action against climate change and build a greener Europe.
- Facebook announced a $1 million investment in a new climate grant program, in partnership with the International Fact Checking Network, to support organizations working to combat climate misinformation.
- Facebook expanded its Climate Science Center to more than 100 countries to connect more people with factual resources from leading climate organizations.
- Facebook announced a new partnership with Stripe, Alphabet, Shopify and McKinsey Sustainability to launch Frontier, an advanced market commitment to accelerate the development of carbon removal technologies.
- Facebook added a Climate InfoFinder and Climate Science Literacy Campaign to its suite of tools, such as fact checking and labels, to help combat climate misinformation.
We’re also testing Climate Pledges in Facebook Groups to empower communities to take action against climate change with the help of expert-backed solutions.
- Facebook launched the Elevating Youth Voices initiative, which amplifies young creators using its platforms to discuss important social issues. It worked with youth organisations Earthrise and JUV, to develop a climate card game using Meta AR Filters, to get people talking about climate issues.
(Image source: airswift.com)