At an Apple event last month, two carbon-neutral Apple Watches were announced – the Series 9 and Ultra. 2. But today the claim was rejected by European consumer body BEUC as “false”.
The European Union has suggested that in future it will be illegal to claim a product is carbon neutral if the claim is based on offset credits. to balance the actual greenhouse gas emissions associated with production…
Apple's Carbon Neutral Apple Watch Claims
In its press release announcing the Apple Watch Series 9, Apple used the phrase “carbon neutral” for no less than 24 times!
For the first time, customers can choose a carbon neutral option for any Apple Watch […]
“At Apple, we're committed to making sure customers love their products while protecting the planet, and this year we reached a key milestone toward our Apple 2030 goal,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of Environment Policy. and social initiatives. “Our first carbon-neutral products were created in Apple's unique way, dramatically reducing carbon emissions from materials, energy and transportation through innovation and design.”
About halfway through publication, it was recognized that this claim is based on the use of offset credits.
Emissions of the three largest sources of greenhouse gases have been reduced. — materials, electricity and transport. The small amount of remaining emissions is offset by high-quality carbon credits from environmental projects.
This “small amount” is reported to be between 7 and 12 kg per watch.
Europe describes the-claim as “fake”
The Financial Times reports that Apple's use of the term was rejected by the European Consumer Organization.
The US tech giant's decision to rely on credits to offset 7-12kg of emissions greenhouse gases associated with each new watch has prompted a sharp backlash from consumer groups following the EU's long-standing tightening of greenwashing measures.
“Carbon-neutral claims are scientifically inaccurate and are misleading consumers misleading,” Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC, a European consumer organisation, told the Financial Times. “The EU's recent decision to ban carbon neutrality claims will rightly clear the market of such false claims, and the Apple Watch should be no exception.”
BEUC's job is to protect the rights of consumers throughout Europe.
BEUC is an umbrella group of 45 independent consumer organizations from 31 countries. Our main role is to represent them in the EU institutions and protect the interests of European consumers. Our acronym comes from our French name, “Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs.”
The nonprofit Carbon Market Watch agreed, calling the use of offsets an “accounting trick.”
“Consumers are under the impression that buying a watch has no impact on the climate at all,” said Gilles Dufrasne, policy officer at Carbon Market Watch, which is partly funded by the EU. “These are accounting tricks.”
One Apple offset is extremely temporary
Even if someone admitted While offset credits are legal, Apple's use of forest plantations has been criticized because it offers only very short-term carbon savings.
Apple says these credits offset emissions associated with the production, delivery and charging of watches throughout their lifetime, thanks to the carbon sequestered by forest plantations and reforestation projects […]
“Trees are turned into pulp and cardboard or toilet paper,” said Niklas Kaskeala, who advises companies on carbon credits. “The carbon contained in these products is released back into the atmosphere very quickly.”
However, it is widely accepted that Apple is ahead of most companies in this work, cutting the Watch share by 81%. -based on emissions compared to 2015 production.
Carbon neutrality claims are planned to be banned in Europe
The European Union recently announced plans to ban carbon neutrality claims in marketing materials where those claims are based on offsets – that is, 100% of them. The ban has not yet been determined, but is expected to take effect in 2026.
Arguments can be made here in favor of either side. There is literally no such thing as carbon neutral production. The best thing to do is to give the company the ability to account for the carbon emitted into the atmosphere from its production processes and buy an appropriate number of offset credits.
Best commentary from Blorft
I appreciate and support Apple's efforts to make their products more environmentally friendly (though I insist they do more in future). They do more than other companies and deserve recognition for it.
However, I agree with BEUC that Apple's use of carbon offset credits is an accounting trick, and the production of these products still emits a certain amount of carbon. Apple is simply buying offsets from another company, effectively shifting responsibility for those emissions to whoever they bought the credits from.
Perhaps we need new terminology to describe the differences here – ” “carbon neutral” for products that are truly carbon neutral from start to finish, and “carbon neutral” for products that purchase carbon offset credits. They could even do both and force manufacturers label their products as “X% carbon neutral, Y% carbon offset.”
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Apple's offset credits rely heavily on forests, and while some remain untouched, most trees are later cut down to produce paper, at which point carbon neutrality is lost.
I think it's fair to call Apple's statements misleading, even if “bogus” may be a little inflammatory.
On the other hand, it is also true that Apple is doing more than any other tech giant to reduce carbon emissions, and it has made some truly impressive progress. This includes strongly encouraging and supporting the supply chain to eliminate environmental impacts.
As we have noted previously, true carbon neutrality is best achieved by using products we already own.