In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):
- Tech giant Apple says it will bring its entire carbon footprint to net zero 20 years sooner than Paris Agreement targets.
- The EU has agreed to a €1 trillion, seven-year coronavirus stimulus package. How green is it?
- US households’ high energy use is causing one-fifth of the country’s total emissions.
- Arcadia Power is committed to making clean energy work for the planet and your bank account — all without changing your utility company. Sign up to receive your $20 Amazon Gift Card.
The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.
Apple’s carbon neutral plan
Apple today announced it will become carbon neutral across its entire business, manufacturing supply chain, and product life cycle by 2030. The company’s global corporate operations are already net zero. And this new initiative means that by 2030, every Apple device sold will be carbon neutral.
In Apple’s 2020 Environmental Progress Report, it lays out its plans to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030 while developing carbon removal solutions for the remaining 25% of its footprint.
Included in the plan is Apple’s Impact Accelerator, which “will focus on investing in minority-owned businesses that drive positive outcomes in its supply chain and in communities that are disproportionately affected by environmental hazards.” It’s part of its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.
The tech giant has laid out a detailed, bullet-pointed Climate Roadmap, which can be read here.
On the green energy front, “Apple will remain at 100% renewable energy for its operations — focusing on creating new projects and moving its entire supply chain to clean power.” For example, Apple and 10 of its suppliers in China are investing nearly $300 million to develop projects totaling 1 gigawatt (GW) of green energy (pictured above), and new and completed projects in Arizona, Oregon, and Illinois bring Apple’s renewable corporate operations capacity to over 1GW.
The EU’s stimulus package
The European Union today agreed to a €1 trillion, seven-year stimulus package in response to the pandemic after a nearly five-day summit. How much of a part are green energy and climate change playing in the plan?
30% of the entire package is going toward fighting climate change. The plan mandates that all spending must contribute to EU emissions-cutting goals.
The Just Transition Fund, whose mission is to “alleviate the socio-economic impacts of the green transition in the regions most affected,” will now receive a combined €17.5 billion, instead of the original €37.5 billion. Reuters explains:
To access the money, countries must commit to the EU’s goal to become “climate neutral” by 2050 — a condition aimed squarely at Poland. The coal-heavy country is expected to receive the largest chunk of the Just Transition Fund, and was the only country which refused to commit to the 2050 climate target at an EU summit in December.
InvestEU, which was intended to help meet green goals, got a big cut — from €31 billion to €4 billion.
There will be an EU-wide tax on non-recycled plastic waste scheduled for 2021. Further, there will be levies on polluting imports by 2023, and a scheme to use carbon market revenues to shore up EU funds will be considered in the future.
The plan doesn’t yet specify spending safeguards, but it does say that spending must adhere to the principle to “do no harm” to EU green goals. Those safeguards must be put in place to ensure successful implementation of a green stimulus plan.
US households are energy hogs
Americans tend to live in abnormally large houses compared to most other countries, and as a result, they’re energy hogs, says a new study from University of Michigan researchers. Further, wealthier US households emit around 25% more than their lower-income counterparts in smaller homes.
The study looked at 93 million homes’ 2015 tax assessor records. This included examining houses’ size, age, location, and date of construction. Geographical results varied: East and West Coast homes emitted less than those in the Midwest.
Grid decarbonization will be insufficient to meet the 80% emissions reduction target for 2050 due to a growing housing stock and continued use of fossil fuels (natural gas, propane, and fuel oil) in homes. Meeting this target will also require deep energy retrofits and transitioning to distributed low-carbon energy sources, as well as reducing per capita floor space and zoning denser settlement patterns.
Reuters reports, however, that home sizes have been trending downward since 2015, according to builders, and congressional Democrats unveiled a climate policy blueprint earlier this month that calls for an update of building codes to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. Further, there is a growing movement to ban natural gas in new homes; San Francisco recently proposed this measure.
Benjamin Goldstein, a study co-author, says Americans need to rethink how they live:
Structural change is going to be important and necessary. We need to have denser and smaller homes.
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