Apple has announced a £226 million investment fund, launched along with ten of the company's supplies, designed to address the serious problem of China's environmental issues.
China is a story of massive and sudden growth: From largely rural origins, the country has reinvented itself as the home of high-tech manufacturing and industry, but its progress has come at a considerable cost to the environment. The country sits at the very top of the World Health Organisation's list of outdoor air polluters, with estimates suggesting over 4,000 people die from air pollution related causes every single day.
China's leaders are aware its pollution problems aren't sustainable, and in recent years has been working to address the issue. Following an announcement from Premier Li Keqiang at the National People's Congress in 2014 that the country was to 'resolutely declare war against pollution,' fine particulate pollution has dropped 32 percent - and now Apple, which relies on Chinese factories for its consumer electronics, is getting in on the act.
The company has announced a £226 million investment over the next four years into the China Clean Energy Fund, coming from its own coffers and those of ten suppliers and manufacturing partners, which will be used to develop clean energy projects to the tune of a gigawatt (1GW) of renewable energy. 'At Apple, we are proud to join with companies that are stepping up to address the climate challenge,' claims Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. 'We’re thrilled so many of our suppliers are participating in the fund and hope this model can be replicated globally to help businesses of all sizes make a significant positive impact on our planet.'
While the move is undeniably a positive one, for both Apple and China the money is but a drop in a very large ocean: Apple has around £215 billion cash on-hand as of its latest financial report, not counting any of its non-cash assets, while China set aside nearly £86 billion in 2014 to tackle the air quality problems in Beijing alone.
Apple has named other companies contributing to the initiative as including Catcher Technology, Compal Electronics, Corning Incorporated, Golden Arrow, Jabil, Luxshare-ICT, Pegatron, Solvay, Sunway Communication, and Wistron.