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Lisa Jackson

Apple’s renewable energy journey

29 April 2021, 15:01 BST 3 min read

Ever the early adopter, Apple started its clean energy journey nearly a decade ago by switching its data centres to renewable electricity. Since then, the company has become a world leader in the use of renewable energy for business.

Lisa Jackson, Vice President of Environment, Policy, and Social initiatives at Apple explains to Jon Dee how switching to renewables has had a positive impact on Apple's business.

“We know that clean energy does yield a return, and it’s one that’s positive, and so it’s a good investment both for us and for our partners.” 

A compelling business case

Lisa Jackson is clear about the benefits of renewable energy: “We look for projects that are good for our bottom line,” says Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy, and Social initiatives.

“You don’t have to worry about the cost of the sun – it’s free! It is going to be there. Wind is going to be there.” 

“Technology has come along to the point that if you’re starting from scratch, clean energy is much cheaper to install and operate.”

She says that renewables “provide a set supply and price for energy long into the future.” 

When asked about the cost of renewables being a prohibitive factor in some markets, Jackson urges businesses not to accept the status quo.

“What we all have to do, as businesses, is demand access to grids so that we can put cheaper, cleaner energy on for our customers and for our own use.”

She also highlights the role of the RE100 initiative in leveraging demand to influence policies.

The value of RE100

Apple joined RE100 in 2016, having already set its 100% renewable electricity goal. The company saw the value of joining forces to collaborate and accelerate change.

“It’s great to know that RE100 exists in order to give companies that extra level of partnership and cohesion to come together around these goals,” says Jackson.

To Lisa Jackson, the benefits of joining RE100 are clear.

“To be able to engage with other companies, to have that level of know-how; to know that all together we’re stronger and a force for clean energy in this world. These are all important."

“RE100 can advocate amongst governments around the world to make that transition easier for businesses who want to step up and lead.”

Engaging suppliers

Over 70% of Apple’s carbon footprint lies in its supply chain. 

Having focused on reducing emissions from its own operations, Apple is now helping suppliers to do the same. To date 110 of Apple’s suppliers have pledged to go 100% renewable with their electricity use.

“You have to bring suppliers along. We let folks know in our supply chain that clean energy – the kind we use - is very important to us, that it can be cheaper than dirty energy and that we’re willing to take that walk with them.”

To do that, Apple passes on information and know how to its manufacturing partners to assist them in their renewables transition. 

“Occasionally it means investing right alongside them. We feel great about doing this because we know that clean energy in this day and age does yield a return, and it’s one that’s positive. So, it’s a good investment both for us and for our partners.”

When it comes to engaging suppliers, communication is key.

“Part of what we can do is make it clear that this is really important work to Apple. This is an innovation that’s as important as any other innovation we may have.” 

“We let folks know in our supply chain that clean energy – the kind we use - is very important to us, that it can be cheaper than dirty energy and that we’re willing to take that walk with them.”

Customers and employees

Lisa Jackson finds it inspiring to see what young people are doing to push for business leadership.

“They are demanding change, they are educating themselves about options, and they are looking for not just concrete promises but actual transparency about what is actually being done.”

When it comes to staff engagement, she says companies shouldn’t underestimate the sustainability ideas that can come from employees.

“Don’t underestimate the incredible energy, enthusiasm and ideas that will come from inside.”

Her advice for other companies is just as clear and straight to the point.

“Set your sights high. Don’t short-change the environment and don’t short-change yourself or your customers.”

“They are demanding change, they are educating themselves about options, and they are looking for not just concrete promises but actual transparency about what is actually being done.”

To find out more about Apple’s use of renewable energy in the 2020 reporting cycle, check them out in our member results listings in the 2020 RE100 Annual Report. This table lists the 2020 energy reporting for Apple and the other members of RE100.