Chelsea_SunChelsea_Sun ・ Mar. 25, 2024
Apple CEO Tim Cook Pushes AI-infused Environmental Protection on China Visit
Apple has set ambitious targets for carbon footprint reduction, with the Apple Watch being hailed as its inaugural carbon-neutral product. Cook reiterated this environmental commitment throughout his visit.

(TMTPOST)—Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said artificial intelligence (AI) is an essential tool for helping businesses reduce their carbon footprint, he said at a climate change dialogue Sunday at the China Development Forum (CDF).

His participation in this discussion marked the conclusion of a week-long series of engagements showcasing Apple's dedication to China. Earlier, he met with Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao and unveiled plans for further investment in Apple's supply chain, stores, and research in the country.

Apple has set ambitious targets for carbon footprint reduction, with the Apple Watch being hailed as its inaugural carbon-neutral product. Cook reiterated this environmental commitment throughout his visit.

“We are making great progress, we are not there yet, and the road ahead requires more innovation,” Cook said of the company’s environmental goals at the Symposium on Carbon Neutrality and Global Climate Governance during CDF. Almost a year after other major players released their AI tools, Apple is now reportedly spending millions of dollars a day on AI development.

“AI provides an enormous toolkit for every company that’s wishing to be carbon neutral or to lower their emissions by a substantial amount,” the 63-year-old CEO said at CDF. “I think the intersection of AI and sustainability is a very interesting intersection that there will be lots of innovation on in the coming years. Just simple things like each person should know their own carbon footprint. AI can help with this.” It can help businesses calculate an individual person’s carbon footprint, identify materials available for recovery and offer strategies for recycling.

Like Apple, China’s leading tech companies are racing to get ahead in the AI contest, however U.S. trade sanctions have curbed their access to the best semiconductors for the task, made by Nvidia.

Cook’s return to the China Development Forum coincided with Beijing’s efforts to demonstrate further openness to business. During the event, he exchanged views with Chinese Premier Li Qiang and other international CEOs.

Cook told reporters that he had visited China frequently over the past year because “it’s so vibrant and so dynamic here, I just always enjoy coming.” His social team documented on his Weibo profile visits with supply partners and a small coffee-making business using Apple technology.

“I was visiting with several of our suppliers earlier this week with like BYD, Lens, and Everwin. The level of engineering that they've done to get the recycle clean down to run their operations on renewable energy, questioning every single thing that they're doing. It's the combination of apple plus our partner.” Cook said at CDF, lauding suppliers BYD Co., Lens Technology Co. and Shenzhen Everwin Precision Technology Co. He also praised coffeemaker Saturnbird for recycling its coffee grounds and containers previously.

The environmental focus of Cook's trip, including the opening of a new store in Shanghai, may have been important to avoid geopolitical tensions. Amid deteriorating U.S.-China relations, Apple has faced challenges, including an escalated ban on iPhones in Chinese government-run or state-backed businesses.

The company’s global corporate operations are now carbon neutral and it aims to have net zero climate impact across its entire business by 2030. “For a company like apple, the largest carbon emissions are from the supply chain and from the customer usage. And so we set our goal to be carbon neutral across the world by 2030. With the environment, it's thousands of projects and it's a whole company effort. It's not the responsibility of one group,” said Cook at CDF.

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