Taking part in the Climate Week NYC kickoff on Monday, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook expressed a self-described "optimistic" outlook on his company's ability to affect climate change, saying that he believes that consumers, when given the choice, will do the right thing and buy green products.
"Consumers will vote with their dollars," Cook said in an interview in Manhattan on Monday. "There's no one out there that wants the planet to go in the wrong direction or to continue to go in the wrong direction."
Cook was invited to participate as part of the enterprise-focused "global solutions" portion of the event, focused on helping to create a "vibrant, low carbon economy." On that subject, Cook said he doesn't believe that there has to be a trade-off between the economy and the environment.
While the CEO admitted that it is hard work to address the environment while also maintaining profitability, he said Apple strives to be an example and show how both can be achieved through innovation.
Under the leadership of Cook, Apple has been more open and forthright about its environmental initiatives than it was with late co-founder Steve Jobs at the helm. Cook acknowledged that being more open allows Apple to set a standard for the industry, and also to be honest with consumers.
"We're very secretive about what products we're working on, you may not have noticed," he joked. "But on something like climate, on human rights, on education, we feel deeply about these. These are at the core of who we are. They are deep in our values. And we know that we will not make enough of a difference if we only solve our little piece of the world."
In particular, Cook said that improving environmental impacts through its supply chain partners encompasses "dirty and detailed work." But the company has managed to eliminate toxins and create highly recyclable, energy efficient electronics that maintain their appeal with consumers.
"I'm an optimist," the CEO said. "I think consumers are really smart, and I think the vast, vast, vast majority of the world wants to do the right thing."
Cook also made note of his company's new "spaceship" Campus 2, which he said he believes will be the greenest building on the planet. Not only do Apple executives want this facility to be environmentally friendly, he said, but it's an important aspect for employees as well. And in his eyes, consumers agere too.
"All of these things matter deeply to us, and we believe they matter to consumers," he said.