Tim Cook calls on rivals to copy Apple (on renewable energy)

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Tim Cook discusses Apple's enterprise ambitions at BoxWorks in San Francisco, September 2015.
Tim Cook discusses Apple's enterprise ambitions at BoxWorks in San Francisco, September 2015.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple CEO Tim Cook is urging competitors to copy Apple in the fight against climate change.

Speaking today at the BoxWorks 2015 conference at Moscone Center here, Cook said Apple’s rivals should copy its efforts to run their operations entirely on renewable energy.

“We are very focused on the environment,” he said. “Climate change is real, and we should stop denying it.”

Apple is famous, of course, for taking a dim view of competitors copying its products. Apple is still involved in a long, drawn-out fight with Samsung over copying the iPhone, and in the past has battled companies like Microsoft over patents.

But Cook said he’d love to see industry copy Apple’s initiatives to combat climate change.

He said Apple realized a few years ago that the giant company — which is the biggest in the world — could run its entire operation on 100 percent renewable energy.

Apple’s U.S. operations already run totally on renewable energy, he said. The company’s goal is to also run its overseas supply chain on renewable sources, he added.

“Anybody could do this,” he said in reference to other businesses. “This is one area where we want to be copied.”

Cook said in the absence of action from the world’s governments, climate change is an area where enterprise could take the lead.

“This is one of the areas where we could step up and lead,” he said, “especially when there’s a void from government.”

Apple’s green push

Having previously been condemned by Greenpeace for its lack of corporate responsibility, Apple has made a big push for renewable energy energy under Cook. In 2013, the company announced that its data centers run on renewable energy, while more recently this intention has been expanded to cover hundreds of Apple Stores and, eventually, the entire company — including that overseas supply chain.

“Apple’s goal is to achieve a net-zero impact on the world’s supply of sustainable virgin fibre and power all its operations worldwide on 100 percent renewable energy,” Cupertino said in a recent statement outlining Apple’s green China initiative. Cook noted that this will take years, but is “a responsibility we accept.”

In a rare angry outburst during his tenure as CEO, Cook in the past advised investors who disagree with his green stance to “get out” of Apple stock.

Most of Apple’s factories are in China, which is infamous for its reliance on coal power. The Chinese, however, recently announced a breakthrough initiative to dramatically cut emissions.

At the Box conference, Cook also talked about Apple’s moves in the enterprise. He noted that Apple has traditionally been a consumer-focused company. But now that everyone uses their consumer devices at work — especially the iPhone and iPad — Apple is also becoming an enterprise company.

Luke Dormehl contributed to this report.