Friday, 16 April 2021 02:03

Apple and partners claim 'first-ever' launch of $200 million Restore Fund to 'accelerate natural solutions to climate change'


Apple says its investment builds on the company’s forestry and responsible packaging innovations to deliver new financial and climate returns

The world's highest profile technology company has announced a "first-of-its-kind carbon removal initiative — called the Restore Fund — that will 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 says its $200 million fund "aims to remove at least 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually from the atmosphere, equivalent to the amount of fuel used by over 200,000 passenger vehicles, while demonstrating a viable financial model that can help scale up investment in forest restoration."

Of course, with China building hundreds of coal-fired power stations, one wonders what%age of that Apple's targets will make up for. It's the same situation which hinders all of Australia's climate change efforts too, with upcoming Chinese energy generation from coal several generation many more greenhouse gases than we are able to cut - and that doesn't include more coal-fire power stations in India, Japan and other parts of the world.

Even so, unless work is being done to clean up energy generation and usage, and the example being set, the world will only take longer to clean up its act, so while today's technology helps create that of tomorrow, our sci-fi future power sources and energy generation and production will hopefully be vastly cleaner, better, stronger, longer lasting and more efficient than that we enjoy today - which itself is a bit leap from the last 5 or 10 years and beyond.

So, what else does Apple have to say about its new initiative?

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives said: "Nature provides some of the best tools to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Forests, wetlands, and grasslands draw carbon from the atmosphere and store it away permanently in their soils, roots, and branches.

“Through creating a fund that generates both a financial return as well as real, and measurable carbon impacts, we aim to drive broader change in the future — encouraging investment in carbon removal around the globe. Our hope is that others share our goals and contribute their resources to support and protect critical ecosystems.”

Apple says this effort is part of its broader goal to become carbon neutral across its entire value chain by 2030. While the company will directly eliminate 75% of emissions for its supply chain and products by 2030, the fund will "help address the remaining 25% of Apple’s emissions by removing carbon from the atmosphere. Trees absorb carbon as they grow, with researchers estimating that tropical forests hold more carbon than humanity has emitted over the past 30 years from burning coal, oil, and natural gas, despite ongoing deforestation.

"The partnership aims to unlock the potential of this natural solution by scaling it in a way that makes it attractive to businesses.

"To ensure that the carbon stored in forests is being accurately quantified, and permanently locked out of the atmosphere, the Restore Fund will use robust international standards developed by recognised organisations such as Verra, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the UN Climate Convention. And it will prioritise investments in working forests that improve biodiversity through the creation of buffer zones and natural set-asides.

"Conservation International is a co-investor in the fund and is ensuring that projects meet strict environmental and social standards. Goldman Sachs is managing the fund. The three parties will identify new projects later this year."

Dina Powell, Global Head of Sustainability and Inclusive Growth at Goldman Sachs said: “Innovation is core to Apple’s approach to climate solutions, and Goldman Sachs is proud to partner with them and Conservation International.

“We all agree that the urgency of climate transition requires private capital to work alongside new and established efforts aimed at sustainably removing carbon from the atmosphere with rigour and high standards. We believe launching this fund can catalyse significant additional investment capital for climate impact.”

Apple’s Forestry Efforts

We're told the Restore Fund builds on Apple’s legacy of work in forestry conservation. For three years running, Apple has used 100% responsibly sourced fibres in its packaging and improved the management of more than 1 million acres of forests globally to date. Apple has also pioneered groundbreaking carbon projects with Conservation International that protect and restore grasslands, wetlands, and forests.

“Investing in nature can remove carbon far more effectively — and much sooner — than any other current technology. As the world faces the global threat climate change presents, we need innovative new approaches that can dramatically reduce emissions,” said Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International. “We are excited to build on our long-standing partnership with Apple and believe the groundbreaking approach with the Restore Fund will make a huge difference and benefit communities around the world with new jobs and revenue that support everything from education to healthcare.”

In 2018, Apple reminds us it "partnered with Conservation International, local government, and conservation organisations in Colombia to protect and restore a 27,000-acre mangrove forest in the country. The aim is to sequester 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over the project’s lifetime.

"These mangroves not only protect the coasts and help support the livelihoods of residents in those communities where they grow, but they also store up to 10 times more carbon than forests on land. This project is the first to use “blue carbon” methodology to rigorously value the entire mangrove system — both above and below the waterline — for its climate mitigation impacts.

"Apple and Conservation International have also partnered with local conservation organisations in Kenya to restore degraded savannahs in the Chyulu Hills region, an area between three national parks in Kenya and just across the border from Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania. Scaling up this work across the degraded rangeland and natural savannahs across Africa could remove hundreds of millions of tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year, while also benefiting local communities and wildlife.

"Apple’s customers can also take part in supporting these efforts. For each Apple Pay purchase from now through Earth Day, Apple will make a donation to Conservation International to support its efforts to preserve and protect the environment."

Working Forests and Responsible Packaging

Since 2017, Apple also reminds us "100% of the virgin wood fibre used in Apple’s packaging has come from responsible sources — the same sort of responsibly managed working forests in which the Restore Fund intends to invest. This represents the company’s first closed-loop material as part of its goal to one day make products using only recycled or renewable materials.

"Progress to this goal has involved steady innovations that have the potential to change the future of sustainable packaging. After launching the first iPhone with majority-fibre packaging in 2016, Apple’s newest iPhone 12 lineup now arrives to customers in packaging that comprises 93% fibre-based materials. This includes the fibre-based screen cover that protects the display and for the first time replaced the standard plastic film.

"Apple has also taken direct steps to support the responsible production of wood fibre. Through partnerships with The Conservation Fund and World Wildlife Fund, Apple has improved the management of more than 1 million acres of working forests in the United States and China since 2015."

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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