Two of the world's largest technology companies are together in support of the Clean Energy Plan, signed in 2015 by the United States government, but which now risks being repealed by the country's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). After Apple’s declaration of support, Google filed a statement for EPA championing the plan.
The Clean Energy Plan is one of the key points of the democrat Barack Obama administration as president of the United States. In June 2014, the EPA, under the former U.S. president’s management, presented the proposal, and its final version was signed in August 2015. The initiative calls for power plants - the biggest carbon polluters in the US - to cut their greenhouse gas emissions in energy generation by roughly 32% by the year 2030, which will be lower than that registered in 2005.
However, in October 2017, the Trump administration is trying to roll it back completely; the EPA is considering alternatives to repeal the Clean Power Plan, and has made official the formal rules and procedures to replace the Plan. Thus, the EPA opened a public consultation to formulate the new proposal: companies, organizations and universities can send comments to the agency, which will be required to respond formally to all of them - including Apple and Google.
What did Google and Apple say?
The document filed by Google with the EPA was shared with tech-media vehicles such as TechCrunch and The Verge. According to the outlets, Google has highlighted its own efforts in search of renewable energy sources and how this policy, as the entire industry knows, has the potential to make clean energy cheaper and is also a good source of jobs.
“Wind and solar deployment, as well as the associated supply chains, have been among the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S. economy in recent years, with job growth rates significantly exceeding the growth rate of the overall labor force,” the company affirms.
In addition, Google's positioning seeks to ensure maintenance of the program as a necessary solution to reverse the impact of human action on the planet. "Curbing global warming is an urgent global priority that requires robust federal policy engagement and strong action from the business community. The Clean Power Plan can encourage modernization of the American electricity system and reduce carbon dioxide emissions while helping to mitigate the threat of global climate change,” claims Google.
The first major company to take a stand in favor of the Clean Energy Plan was Apple, according to Reuters. The company founded by Steve Jobs argues that, by abandoning the program, the US would be less competitive in the world's clean energy economy and that the price of renewable energy is more stable than that of fossil fuels - which makes it easier for companies to foresee electricity costs.
“Repealing the Clean Power Plan will subject consumers like Apple and our large manufacturing partners to increased investment uncertainty,” the company said in their filing.
How does the Clean Energy Plan Work?
The program emerged from the need to reduce environmental impact resulting from energy production. Based on agreements reached in the Paris Protocol and the definition of the Sustainable Development Goals, the US government presented and approved the Clean Energy Plan in order to encourage States and companies to invest in clean energy sources.
Ideally, the program would work as follows: The EPA would set an individual goal to cut carbon dioxide emissions for each US state. States could define their energy policies freely, as long as they met this goal; if one of them refused to conform to the program, the agency would have the right to impose a federal mandate on it.
In the original schedule, states would have to submit their projects between 2016 and 2018, begin to reduce emissions as of 2022 and meet the target by 2030. However, implementation of the plan has been questioned in court and the plan itself has never been effectively put into practice.
Overall, efforts to reverse the energy matrix have been working. According to a report published by the UN, in 2017 investments in renewable energy were higher than in fossil fuel-based energy. Since 2004, the world has invested US$ 2.9 trillion in these green energy sources. China was the world’s largest investing country in renewables, with US$ 86.5 billion invested in solar energy development in one year alone.