OK Apple seem to have decided that yesterday was an Earth Day for them with their marketing Event. Like simpler times of the early 2010s, when simply running a anti-resale campaign was enough to claim green credentials:
Now we have the XR movement filled with scary real scientists and facts about what happens if we don’t start outputting net zero CO2 emissions from human activities.
But when it was actually Earth Day on April 22nd, and I wandered over from Westminster for a charge, they ejected me from Ldn store for simply carrying this sign (video with more info avail on req):
No flicker of an Earth Day mention on their website.
But now raw materials are up, so they’ve had to finally match more competitive companies' efficiency on making their lil timepieces, and they’ve plugged some estimates into a carbon-offset website for fossil-fuelled charging, so they now loudly proclaim ‘Carbon Neutral’ (on manufacturing) on their website again. But let’s have a closer look at exactly what is being claimed here, and what isn’t:
Firstly, just ‘carbon neutral’, not ‘net zero’ (I’ll believe it when I see it). Nando’s already is on theirs, so must be a really serious acheivement!
Secondly, manufacturing is a fraction of the wider net CO2 from Apple Watch usage. Because devices are now primarily a portal to access cloud-computing (storage, AI, and soon VR). Granted Apple can’t take responsibility for all uses of the tech (like buying BTC in UK triggering new Kazakh coal-plants), but instructing your AI Fitness+ instructor? Probably fossil-fuelled in Apple’s iCloud servers they aren’t even attempting to account for!
I’m on the cusp of workshopping a musical with @Pandit which is based around a Californian tech firm releasing a new small device claiming to be net-zero (a slightly stronger claim than ‘carbon neutral’), but in fact is having massive footprint in the background. It’s possible that the less energy-intensive the device itself, the more likely it is to have a larger overall carbon footrprint if the cloud-computing is done on fossil fuels.
I’m bracing myself for the Beeb’s cloud-computing Panorama doc, our the final piece of science research tonight as we’re closing in on our 13 songs.
It all started with a professor telling me Bitcoin had the carbon-footprint of a nation. And then discovering 1 actual nation was a quarter of that…
Our musical posits that even more energy intensive products (AI, VR and their combination) are coming, so we pulled forward the Bitcoin material into a song “Bitcoin is Not nice (Made in Astana)” out next Weds:
Back on Earth Day, here’s me holding the same sign outside the Kazakh embassy en route to Covent Garden, who no doubt would’ve kicked me out too if I’d try to go in:
But at least Kazakhstan don’t have the gall to run marketing on being climate-friendly. gov.kz/environment goes 404.
Big Tech - and Apple’s the most overgrown - have the economic clout of a nation. Don’t be surprised when they act for themselves not the world.
But still have the marketing budget left for apple.com/environment