Why Apple's carbon-neutral claims may be misleading

The company isn't disclosing all the information, a new report alleges

Apple watch
Apple launched a new Apple Watch line claiming to be carbon-neutral
(Image credit: Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Apple has unveiled a new line of carbon-neutral Apple Watches as part of "a major step in the company’s journey toward its ambitious Apple 2030 goal to make every product carbon neutral by the end of the decade," per an Apple press release. However, the Beijing-based nonprofit Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) claimed the company is "climate-washing" — overstating its work in addressing climate change — in a new report.

"We believe there is a need for full disclosure and explanation of how Apple achieves carbon neutrality of its products, given the increase in carbon emissions from some of its suppliers," the nonprofit group said. Apple claims to "work closely with suppliers to help them procure more renewables and advocate together for reliable, cost-effective access to clean electricity in grids around the world," the brand said in a written statement to Inside Climate News

However, the company does not reveal much information about the suppliers themselves that would support their claim of carbon neutrality. "The company’s suppliers rely heavily on the purchase of renewable energy certificates, the efficacy of which have been called into question, rather than the direct use of renewable energy," the outlet reported. 

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IPE questioned whether Apple’s milestone "reflect[s] a genuine and substantial reduction in carbon emissions from the manufacturing process," or simply "a case of cherry-picking limited green resources to achieve 'numerical' carbon neutrality." Despite this, Apple took "many good steps along the road" by "carrying out a deep clean of the Apple Watch supply chain," Wired wrote. Despite this, carbon neutrality may never be completely possible for a company like Apple. "It’s kind of silly," David Ho, a climate scientist at the University of Hawaii, told Wired. "It gives consumers the idea that there are ways out of these problems that don’t involve consuming less."

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