Source: Apple has had a successful decade. The next one looks tougher. (From The Economist)

Today Lisa Jackson, a former head of America’s Environmental Protection Agency and now a vice-president directly reporting to Mr Cook, is involved in product development from the start.Apple has set itself the laudable goal of becoming carbon-neutral across all its products by 2030. And Mr Cook has called privacy “a fundamental human right” and, among other things, forced app makers to ask users whether they want to be tracked by advertisers. Admittedly, being pro-privacy aligns with Apple’s business model, which unlike those of Facebook and Google does not make money by collecting data to sell targeted ads, and climate-cuddling plays well with the sensibilities of Apple’s mostly well-off users at little cost, given Apple’s relatively shallow carbon footprint. This has helped keep regulators off Apple’s back—and made it into the world’s most valuable brand, according to one estimate.

Does climate-cuddling mean the idea of preventing climate change?

Thank you!

  • Hi, Emma-Li - can you provide more context? Where did you find this sentence?
    – stangdon
    Jan 16, 2022 at 16:04
  • 3
    Cuddling is a display of affection, love, care. It means the company cares about the environment. Jan 16, 2022 at 16:29
  • 7
    I challenge the journalist's claim: “Apple’s relatively shallow carbon footprint“. In any case, "cuddling" suggests that Apple are aware that their products and factories do in fact contribute to climate change. Thus the aim of their manifesto is to make consumers feel less guilty about purchasing the latest iPhone, no one really needs a new model after one or two years but Apple could never openly admit this. If they fully embraced reducing their carbon footprint they would not encourage consumers to dispose of their devices in exchange for a shinier model.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 16, 2022 at 22:01
  • We like an aliteration. youtube.com/watch?v=XXRhZxOnAzw "A lot of aliterations from anxious anchors placed in powerful posts."
    – Dan
    Jan 16, 2022 at 22:12

3 Answers 3


There are terms involving 'something-hugging' which are sarcastically or disapprovingly used about activities and communications which appeal to people concerned about the environment, climate change, etc. 'Tree-hugging' has been around for decades. Evironmentalists have been known to hug trees scheduled to be cut down to prevent that happening. Even Boris Johnson says 'It is not “politically correct bunny-hugging” to take action on climate change'.

The terms 'bunny-hugging' or 'bunny-hugger' are both regarded as derogatory phrases used to undermine environmental, climate change and animals rights activists.

What is bunny hugging? - Boris Johnson reference mocked by leading climate activist Greta Thunberg

tree hugger


often disapproving

someone who is very interested in protecting the environment

Tree hugger

  • 6
    I agree that "climate cuddling" has its roots in "tree hugging" but the meaning in this context is the opposite. "Tree hugging" denigrates environmentalists for going too far. "Climate cuddling" denigrates Apple for not going far enough. Jan 16, 2022 at 16:53
  • 3
    @EthanBolker - is climate cuddling related to greenwashing? Jan 16, 2022 at 16:54
  • 1
    That's my interpretation. The whole article might make that clearer. Jan 16, 2022 at 19:04
  • 2
    @EthanBolker - I have an elderly relative who thinks the BBC is run by 'leftist tree-hugging diversity-cuddlers'. He actually said that. Jan 16, 2022 at 20:10
  • 2
    In case anyone is in any doubt, I myself am proud to be a leftist tree-hugging diversity-cuddler. Jan 16, 2022 at 22:48

In this context I think the author intends "climate cuddling" to mean that Apple is making some efforts to address climate change, well publicized but perhaps only small, so that its "mostly well off users" can feel good about Apple at little cost to themselves. Why that would keep regulators at bay is not clear from this short extract.


This isn’t a commonly-used phrase. A search of the Web found your question, links to the article you cite, an advertisement for a warm blanket two lovebirds could cuddle in, and some accidental hits where one sentence ends with something like “in this climate,” and the next begins with something like, “Cuddling kittens ....”

I wonder if the author meant, “climate coddling.” Merriam-Webster defines coddle as

to treat with extreme or excessive care or kindness

Either way, the implication seems to be that the company is doing something to make its shareholders feel good, but that won’t actually help.

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