updated 10:00 pm EDT, Wed May 29, 2013
Early reaction to new job for former EPA head is positive
Tim Cook's hiring of former EPA chief Lisa Jackson to be the new face of environmental responsibility at Apple has won praise from Greenpeace -- a group normally known for being critical of Apple's environmental policies -- and has been followed-up with a statement from Jackson herself on her new role at the Cupertino electronics giant, reports AppleInsider. Jackson told Politico via email -- written on her iPhone -- that she is "thrilled" to be joining the Apple team, while Greenpeace praised the hire as "a bold move."
Greenpeace, which has often criticized Apple not so much for its proactive environmental policies but as an easier target that garners publicity and draws a spotlight to the entire industry, was enthusiastic on Jackson's hiring. The group issued a statement saying that Apple "has made a bold move in hiring Lisa Jackson, a proven advocate with a track record of combating toxic waste and the dirty energy that causes global warming, two of Apple's biggest challenges as it continues to grow." It has also periodically praised Apple for specific programs alongside the criticism and pressure.
Senior IT Analyst Gary Cook, who issued the statement, added that Jackson's hiring could "make Apple the top environmental leader in the tech sector," seemingly ignoring the fact that Apple already is the most transparent and environmentally-friendly corporation in the industry. While the group has sometimes scored other companies -- such as Dell -- higher on certain points (such as highlighting an electronics recycling program) than Apple, no other electronics company comes anywhere near Apple's top-to-bottom approach to environmental consciousness, from the materials it uses in its products to its steps to reduce supplier pollution, reduce packaging waste, lower its carbon footprint and above all report on environmental issues. Apple has on occasion pointed out that some of Greenpeace's charges are false or based on bad data.
Still, both Apple and Greenpeace agree that the iPhone maker could do still more in the area of environmental responsibility. For example, although Apple has gone to extraordinary effort and cost to make its latest data centers extremely energy-efficient and created solar farms and other measures to power them with renewable resources, Greenpeace has put pressure on the company to reduce any ties to coal-based energy producers. Jackson, the group believes, will help the company "use its influence to push electric utilities and governments to provide the clean energy that both Apple and America need right now," and that such reform will have a knock-on effect on the rest of the industry.
Most recently, Greenpeace has urged Apple to improve its GHG emission reporting, become more of an advocate for clean energy, and provide further transparency on the company's management of toxic chemicals. The group lowered its rating of Apple to sixth place in its latest Guide to Green Electronics. Cook has said that Jackson will lead environmental initiatives "across the company" along with overseeing Apple's existing environmental programs.
Jackson, who headed the EPA for the first term of the Obama administration, is best known for her expansion of the Clean Air Act to include carbon dioxide and other chemicals included. She also championed an ultimately unsuccessful effort to strengthen anti-smog enforcement, but the proposal was killed due to poor economic conditions.
For her part, Jackson described herself as "incredibly impressed with Apple's commitment to the environment, and I'm thrilled to be joining the team." She will report directly to the CEO, and her position has been described as "taking our existing environmental commitment ... to the next level" by Cook during his D11 interview. "Apple has shown how innovation can drive real progress by removing toxics from its products, incorporating renewable energy in its data center plans, and continually raising the bar for energy efficiency in the electronics industry," Jackson added, saying she looked forward "to helping support and promote these efforts, as well as leading new ones in the future aimed at protecting the environment."