Investing in the low-carbon transition in a volatile world

Why invest in the low-carbon transition?

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Apple’s roadmap to becoming carbon neutral

Apple has recently announced a roadmap which detailed its plan to reduce emissions by 75 percent by the year 2030. The plan will also outline ways to develop carbon removal solutions for the remaining 25 percent of its footprint. 

In the first decade of the roadmap, Apple plans to lower emissions with a series of actions. This will include the use of low carbon and recycled materials in its products, find new ways to recycle products and design energy-efficient products. 

Low carbon product design

In 2019, Apple was able to reduce its carbon footprint by 4.3 million metric tons through recycled content innovations in its products. Apple will continue its usage of recycled and low carbon materials in its products and will design future products to be as energy-efficient as possible. 

In the last year, all of Apple’s Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch products were built with recycled components. This included 100 percent recycled rare earth elements in the iPhone Taptic Engine.

Expanding on Energy Efficiency

In 2019, Apple invested in energy-efficient upgrades to more than 6.4 million square feet of new and existing buildings. This lowered their electricity needs and saved the company $27 million. 

Last year 92 facilities took part in Apple’s Supplier Energy Efficiency Program. They managed to avoid producing more than 770 000 metric tons of supply chain carbon emissions. 

Apple has also entered into a new partnership with US-China Green Fund and will invest

$100 million in accelerated energy efficiency projects for their suppliers. 

Focus on renewable energy

Apple will continue to focus on creating new projects and transferring its supply chain to clean energy. More than 70 of Apple’s suppliers have committed to using 100 per cent renewable energy for Apple products. This will be the equivalent of almost 8 gigawatts in commitments to power the manufacturing of its products. When this is completed, more than 14.3 million metric tons of CO2Ee will be avoided annually. 

More than 80 per cent of renewable energy that Apple sources for its facilities are from Apple-created projects that benefit communities and other businesses. 

Improvements to process and materials

Apple is currently supporting the development of the very first direct carbon-free aluminium smelting process by investing and collaborating with two of its aluminium suppliers. 

Apple also announced that the first batch of low carbon aluminium has been used in the production of the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

In 2019 Apple was able to drastically reduce emissions from fluorinated gases which are used in the manufacturing of some consumer electronics components. 

Investing in conservation

Apple has recently announced its carbon solutions fund that will invest in the restoration and conservation of forests and natural ecosystems. The company has partnered with Conservation International and will invest in new projects and continue the work of restoring the natural landscape. This includes the degraded savannas of Kenya and the mangrove ecosystem of Colombia. 

With the help of The Conservation Fund, the World Wildlife Fund, and Conservation International, Apple has been able to protect and improve the management of more than one million acres of forests and natural climate of Kenya, China, the US and Colombia. 

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Standard Bank committed to a change in energy supply

As Africa’s largest bank by assets, Standard Bank has claimed that it is committed to its role in the growing shift towards a low-carbon economy. Standard Bank Group’s Head for Corporate Citizenship, Wendy Dobson, explained that the Covid-19 pandemic has presented new opportunities for businesses and governments to fast-track their plans to move to a low-carbon economy that could benefit future generations. 

Dobson added that recently investors have become concerned about climate change. This led to investment mandates to focus more on environmental, social and corporate governance issues. This meant that corporates have the official authorisation to ensure that they create value for stakeholders as well as shareholders. 

“In this regard, Standard Bank recognises that climate change is a material risk to our ability to generate value for all our stakeholders over time, and to our purpose of uplifting and safeguarding African societies, environments and economies,” Dobson said

During an annual general meeting (AGM), the group became the first South African company to table a climate-related resolution proposed by shareholder activists. The shareholders voted in favour of developing policies that would in future provide stringent parameters for lending to coal-fired power projects and to coal mining operations. 

“This year, Standard Bank received a new set of proposed resolutions aimed at requiring the bank to adopt a policy on lending to carbon-intensive, fossil fuels activities, and to commit to a hard deadline for enhanced disclosures related to climate risk,” Dobson said.

However, requests to table these resolutions were declined since according to the Companies Act the shareholders did not have a legal right to vote. Dobson explained that the resolutions would “effectively usurp the role and function of the board.” 

She also added that the resolutions would ignore “the substantial progress that Standard Bank has already made in these areas.”

“We are also funding natural gas projects in Mozambique, given the importance of natural gas in the transition to clean energy and the hugely transformative impact that these projects will have on the country and its people,” Dobson said

Standard Bank has supported the Paris Agreement and was a founding signatory for the UN Principles for Responsible Banking. 

“It continues to make progress on improving its climate-related disclosures in line with the principles of the global Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). It is adopting stringent and comprehensive policies and frameworks to enable the transition to a more sustainable economy,” Dobson said

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