Apple’s New Mission: Supporting 1.5C Lifestyles*
What happens when a large corporation such as Apple finally decides it’s time to change course and transition itself from a barrier into a driver of 1.5C lifestyles? What could it actually look like?
By Raz Godelnik and Lucia Jaramillo
It felt like another day at the office, but Apple’s VP of Public Relations knew it was a historic day. She read the press release again, took a deep breath and hit the SEND button. Though it was only two pages long, this press release had the potential to reshape the company’s history and possibly beyond.
Here is what she sent:
PRESS RELEASE — September 16, 2024.
Apple’s New Mission: Supporting 1.5C Lifestyles
Reaffirming its commitment to fighting climate crisis and grounded in its “Think Differently” DNA, Apple shares a bold new plan for its future
CUPERTINO, CALIFORNIA — Today, Apple has unveiled a new strategy to empower the company to champion low-carbon lifestyles, also referred to as 1.5C lifestyles. Acknowledging the gravity of the climate crisis and the need for exceptional ingenuity and leadership, the new strategy will reflect Apple’s strong commitment to providing people with the world’s best technology and design while actively supporting the transition to low-carbon lifestyles.
Amid mounting concerns about climate change, Apple has made a historic decision to break a 17-year tradition by not introducing any new product updates this year. Instead, the company has unveiled ‘Apple 2030+,’ a groundbreaking plan centered around five key initiatives. These initiatives exemplify Apple’s dedication to redefining innovation in the face of the climate crisis, providing a glimpse into the company’s vision for the future. This reaffirms Apple’s unwavering commitment to its ‘Think Differently’ ethos. The initiatives are as follows:
Initiative 1: Products for life
The shift to a new era, defined by the climate crisis, necessitates a different design approach. Therefore, Apple has decided to transition away from its traditional design philosophy toward an approach that will enable the company to offer products with significantly longer lifespans, ultimately lasting a lifetime. The new design approach will combine the design elements instrumental in the company’s success with new principles prioritizing the longevity of Apple products.
As a first step, the company will cease introducing new versions of existing products every year, starting this year. Instead, Apple aims to make all its products modular, repairable, and upgradable by 2030, beginning with two iconic products: the iPhone and Apple Watch. The new design for these products will be unveiled next year, showcasing Apple’s top-notch modular design, which will allow customers to repair and/or upgrade different parts of their phones and watches without replacing them entirely.
While Apple will continue working on reducing the environmental impacts of its products, the company plans to develop a business model that encourages and enables customers to keep their products longer without sacrificing any technological or design advantages. This is a challenge that Apple is proud to embrace and that will drive its success in this new era.
Initiative 2: New affordable repair services
In a bold step towards promoting product longevity, Apple is introducing an enhanced repair service as a core offering. All Apple stores will provide affordable repair services for Apple products by next year. Starting next month, each store will host a repair café every Friday, where customers can attend self-repair classes and access the necessary tools and space to learn firsthand how to repair their damaged Apple products.
Furthermore, Apple is committed to expanding its impact by establishing 15 centers in low-income communities across the United States in 2024. These centers will offer free courses to train Apple-certified technicians. Upon successful completion of the program, all technicians will receive ongoing support to help them work as repair service providers for Apple. Apple’s ambitious plan entails the establishment of 100 centers and the training of 100,000 new repair service providers worldwide over the next five years.
Initiative 3: Advancing climate content: Climate Comedy & Barbie 2
Apple is proud to announce two partnerships to support new exciting climate content. First, Apple is collaborating with Yellow Dot Studios, founded by Adam McKay, to bring Yellow Dot Studios’ content, which includes “videos and other materials that will raise awareness of climate change and other issues, often told with comedy,” to a wider audience. As part of this collaboration, Apple TV will broadcast a new series developed by Yellow Dot Studios next year. Additionally, Apple will include content created by Yellow Dot Studios as “advertisements” on various channels, including TikTok and Apple’s app store. Apple will also contribute $1 million to fund a new comedy club, which will be managed by Yellow Dot Studios, for young comedians who want to focus on climate change.
In addition, Apple is happy to announce that it has entered into an agreement with Mattel to produce “Barbie 2: The Ultimate Journey.” This sequel will center around Barbie’s exploration of adopting a 1.5C lifestyle. Greta Gerwig has already committed to writing and directing the film, with plans for it to be released next year.
Initiative 4: Supporting Climate Policy
Recognizing the importance of climate regulation, Apple is proud to announce its commitment to taking the next step in becoming an even stronger advocate for progress on climate policy. In line with ClimateVoice’s 1 in 5 campaign, Apple will allocate 20% of its lobbying funds next year to support climate policies that align with the Paris Agreement. This percentage will increase to 35% by 2030. Additionally, Apple will cease making donations to politicians who do not support strong climate regulation and will review its memberships in various organizations to ensure affiliation with those endorsing climate policies. Last but not least, Apple will allocate $10 million annually to support Right to Repair legislation on state and federal levels.
Initiative 5: Mother Nature joins Apple’s Board of Directors
Apple recognizes the vital importance of incorporating environmental perspectives into high-level decision-making. As a result, ‘Mother Nature’ will be appointed to Apple’s Board of Directors, with voting rights. This decision reflects Apple’s commitment to ensuring that every strategic choice and business decision takes into consideration the planet as an equal stakeholder. It amplifies the consideration of the ecological impacts of the company’s actions and their consequences on non-human actors at the highest level.
While Apple is not the first company to seek this level of improved environmental representation on its board, it is the first public company to do so, with the hope of inspiring other corporations to follow suit. Apple is currently collaborating with Project Drawdown to select a Nature guardian for its board, with plans to present this appointment at the company’s next annual shareholder meeting.
*As you may have guessed, this press release is fictional. But wouldn’t you wish it were real? If so, we should all ask ourselves: ‘What can we do to make it happen?’
Raz Godelnik is an Associate Professor of Strategic Design & Management at Parsons School of Design — The New School.
Lucia Jaramillo is a graduate student in the MS Strategic Design and Management Program at Parsons School of Design — The New School.