Apple said the fund’s aim was to remove the equivalent of fuel used by over 200,000 passenger vehicles, and formed part of its target announced last year to become carbon neutral across its entire value chain by 2030.The company plans to directly eliminate 75 per cent of the emissions across its supply chain and projects by 2030, and explained that the Restore Fund would help to address the remaining 25 per cent of supply chain emissions by removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
Nature-based climate solutions are key to combatting emissions, it suggested, pointing to research estimating tropical forests hold more carbon than humanity has emitted over the past 30 years by burning coal, oil, and natural gas, despite ongoing deforestation.
“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,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives.
“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.”
The three partners plan to identify the first new projects supported through the fund, which is being managed by Goldman Sachs, later this year, but Apple said it would prioritise investments in working forests that improve biodiversity through the creation of “buffer zones and natural set asides”.
Dina Powell, global head of sustainability and inclusive growth at Goldman Sachs, said the urgency of the climate crisis “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,” she added.
Conservation International – a co-investor in the fund – will be responsible for ensuring the chosen projects meet “strict” environmental and social standards developed by organisations such as the UN Climate Convention, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and carbon benchmark verification firm Verra.
Apple has been working with the conservation group for several years, including on a project to protect and restore a 27,000-acre mangrove forest in Colombia, which it said would sequester an estimated one million tonnes of CO2 over the project’s lifetime, as well as protecting the coastline. The two organisations have also previously worked together on efforts to restore Kenya’s degraded savannas, which they claim could also help remove hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 each year.
Dr M Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International, said investing in nature could remove carbon far more effectively and faster 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,” he said.
“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.”
The announcement comes as Apple gears up to unveil its latest sustainability report later today, setting out the firm’s progress on boosting the recyclability, repair, reuse and material sourcing for its products, as well as its efforts towards ensuring all of its suppliers use 100 per cent renewable power by 2030.
The investment is also part of a growing wave of funding for so-called nature based solutions, which seek to reduce concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere by enhancing and expanding natural carbon sinks.
However, the trend remains the subject of intense debate, with some environmental campaigners and scientists warning that a lack of standards and regulation in the expanding carbon offset market means some nature-based projects fail to deliver promised emissions. Meanwhile, there are ongoing fears that corporates’ focus on offsets could distract from the need to reduce direct emissions and ensure any negative emissions projects are reserved for the hardest to abate industries.
Regulators and financial institutions are currently exploring how to alleviate these concerns with discussions ongoing over how new standards and regulations could enhance the integrity of carbon offset markets and individual schemes.