The move announced ahead of Earth Day 2021 sees the US$200 million investment aiming to remove at least one million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually from the atmosphere while demonstrating a viable financial model that can help scale up investment in forest restoration.
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On April 15 2021, Apple 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 American non-profit Conservation International and multi-national investment company Goldman Sachs, Apple’s $200 million fund aims to remove at least one million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually from the atmosphere, equivalent to the amount of fuel used by over 2,00,000 passenger vehicles, while demonstrating a viable financial model that can help scale up investment in forest restoration.
Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, believes Nature provides some of the best tools to remove carbon from the atmosphere, in that forests, wetlands, and grasslands draw carbon from the atmosphere and store it away permanently in their soils, roots, and branches. She continues, “Through creating [the Restore 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.”
What is the Restore Fund?
This effort is part of Apple’s 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.
Earth Day special
- Apple’s customers can also take part in supporting the efforts mentioned in this story. For each Apple Pay purchase from now through Earth Day (April 22), Apple will make a donation to Conservation International to support its efforts to preserve and protect the environment. However, India does not support Apple Pay at the moment.
Dina Powell, Global Head of Sustainability and Inclusive Growth, Goldman Sachs, explains, “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 [the Restore Fund] can catalyse significant additional investment capital for climate impact.”
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 one million acres of forests globally to date. Apple has also pioneered ground-breaking 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,” says Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO, Conservation International.
Past green endeavours
In 2018, Apple partnered with Conservation International, local government, and conservation organisations in Colombia to protect and restore a 27,000-acre mangrove forest in Cispatá Bay on the Caribbean coast of the country. The aim is to sequester one 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 savannas in the Chyulu Hills region, an area between three national parks in Kenya and just across the border from Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania. Scaling up this work across the degraded rangeland and natural savannas across Africa could remove hundreds of millions of tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year, while also benefiting local communities and wildlife.
Since 2017, 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 towards the tech giant’s packaging goals 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 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.
Suppliers in India part of Apple’s Supplier Clean Energy Programme include Yuto and CCL, which are supporting efforts to use renewable and sustainably managed materials in its packaging.
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.