Google and Apple among tech giants backing Clean Power Plan

The four largest tech giants Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft have collectively warned that any attempts to block a low-carbon transition in the US would prove 'costly' to both the global economy and human wellbeing.

Collectively forming the ‘Tech Amici’, the four companies have filed an amicus brief to support President Obama’s call to lower electricity sector emissions by 32% by 2030 as part of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.

In the briefing, the four tech giants state: “This commitment reflects Tech Amici’s belief that delaying action on climate change will be costly in economic and human terms, while accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy will produce multiple benefits with regard to sustainable economic growth, public health, resilience to natural disasters, and the health of the global environment.”

The Clean Power Plan – which would establish state-by-state targets for carbon emissions reductions – was set for issue in 2015 but was blocked by the Supreme Court after lobbying from states and energy groups.

With Obama stating that the Clean Power Plan would lower energy bills, ensure energy security and create new jobs, the Tech Amici – collectively worth more than $1.7trn – have lobbied to support the plan, after implementing an array of low-carbon initiatives themselves.

While Microsoft founder Bill Gates has opened up a new renewable energy investment group, Apple has revealed that 93% of its global facilities are powered by renewable energy.

Despite being accused of being ‘stuck in a dirty energy past’, Amazon has pledged to achieve 100% renewable energy usage, and Google is leading the way in a new infrastructure push of electric vehicles. Collectively, the four companies hope the endorsement will relieve any fears over the plan.

Paris Agreement

The news comes as both the US and China revealed they planned to formally join the Paris climate agreement in 2016. The two countries – responsible for 40% of global emissions – released a joint statement, agreeing to sign the deal this month (April), in order to take ‘respective domestic steps’ to approve the deal.

Obama’s special adviser on climate change, Brian Deese said: “The two largest economies and two largest emitters are saying we are not going to wait, not just sign on the first day, but join much more quickly than has been historical practice.”

The Agreement can only be ratified if 55 countries that make up 55% of global emissions receive approval from lawmakers. However, with developing countries threatening to boycott the signing ceremony in New York unless developed countries keep to promises, the US and China’s agreement may count for little.

Lack of planning

With the questions still looming over the Paris Pledge and the Clean Power Plan, the UK is still waiting on its Government to move away from its ‘parochial and small-minded’ energy policy.

While the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) prepares to ease pressure on the steel industry, a raft of green policy changes have left future clean energy deployment levels hanging in the balance – despite a record-breaking year for renewable energy generation.

Matt Mace

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