Virtue Charging: iPhone Feature Only Lets Clean Energy Charge Your Phone

iPhone users were somewhat surprised by a new-ish battery option that reportedly slowed down charging that came to light on Sunday. The Clean Energy Charging feature was actually added to iOS 16.1 back in October, and it aims to reduce the iPhone’s (and the user’s) carbon footprint by charging the battery only when plugged into lower carbon-emission electricity.

With the feature on, you’ll get a forecast of the carbon emissions in your local energy grid, which the phone will use to charge your phone during times of cleaner energy production. When the feature suspends charging, you’ll get a notification of the estimated time it will be fully charged based on the carbon emissions forecast.

The feature is enabled by default on iPhones after the iOS 16.1 update. It works in tandem with another feature, Optimized Battery Charging, so it can learn your charging habits, as it only engages when it “knows” your phone will be plugged in for a long period of time, like when you’re at home or at work. It’s automatically disabled when you charge somewhere new, like when traveling.

It’s currently only available for iPhones in the United States for now. To turn it off, the user just needs to go to Settings > Battery > Battery Health & Charging and turn off Clean Energy Charging. If you chose to keep it on but by some crisis need to override it, Apple will let you. Just hold the notification with the time your phone will be fully charged and tap Charge Now.

Apple’s climate goals

The company has pledged carbon neutrality by 2030, with an emission reduction target of 75% below its 2015 levels. And the day after this feature was released on October 24, Apple announced on a call its global supply chain made up of over 200 suppliers has committed to decarbonize by 2030.

But, Apple — along with the world’s biggest companies such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft — has been accused of “greenwashing” by two European climate watchdogs in a recent report.

“We found that most of the companies’ strategies do not represent examples of good practice climate leadership. Companies’ climate change commitments do not add up to what their pledges might suggest,” wrote Carbon Market Watch and the New Climate Institute in the report Corporate Responsibility Monitor 2023: Assessing the Transparency and Integrity of Companies Emission Reduction and Net-zero Targets.

The report says, in the case of Apple, that while its 2030 goals align with the specifications of the Paris Agreement, the tech giant has no short-term goals for the next five years that would effectively substantiate its climate goals.

Information for this briefing was found via Twitter, Apple, Carbon Market Watch, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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