While delivering a commencement speech at Tulane University on Saturday, Apple CEO Tim Cook urged the graduating class of 2019 to address issues like climate change after, he said, the Baby Boomers failed to do so.
“In some important ways, my generation has failed you in this regard,” he said. “We spent too much time debating. We’ve been too focused on the fight and not focused enough on progress. And you don’t need to look far to find an example of that failure.”
The graduates, he said, should spend their time working on issues that haven’t already been solved – no matter if those problems seem too big or too complex to fix. One of those issues, Cook said, is climate change -- an issue that he noted the New Orleans community is well-acquainted with after Hurricane Katrina struck it in 2005.
“I don’t think we can talk about who we are as people and what we owe to each other without talking about climate change,” he said. “This problem doesn't get any easier based on whose side wins or loses an election. It’s about who has won life’s lottery and has the luxury of ignoring this issue, and who stands to lose everything.”
In early April, Apple announced that it was addressing climate change by launch some new green initiatives, including doubling the number of suppliers that run Apple production on 100 percent clean energy and bringing 4 gigawatts of renewable energy into its supply chain by 2020.
It’s not the first time that Cook has spoken out about climate change. In 2017, when President Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Cook, in a letter sent to employees, expressed his “disappointment” with the decision and said he tried to talk the president out of it. The letter was first obtained by Mashable. He stressed that Apple would continue to invest in renewable energy and other initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint.
Cook took a mostly apolitical stance during the address, noting that the problem of climate change does not get easier based on whose side wins or loses an election. Already, he said, people living in coastal communities are being forced to leave their homes as the effects of climate change begin to bare down.
“I challenge you to look for those who have the most to lose, and find the real, true empathy that comes from something shared,” he said. “That is really what we owe one another. When you do that, the political noise dies down, and you can feel your feet firmly planted on solid ground.”