Apple Evades Green Demand for a CO2 Emissions Timetable

Rotten Apple

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Über green Apple Corporation apparently plans to use a legal technicality to block a demand by shareholders that all activities, including manufacturing by third party suppliers, be included in a commitment to zero net CO2 emissions by 2030.

How Apple Could Block Climate Change Vote: SEC Limits Shareholder Power

The Securities and Exchange Commission told Apple that the company would not face sanctions if executives blocked shareholders from voting on a non-binding proposal to eliminate Apple’s climate-related pollution — in effect, allowing Apple to disenfranchise its own stockholders without fear of punishment.

“The proposal seeks to micromanage the company by probing too deeply into matters of a complex nature upon which shareholders, as a group, would not be in a position to make an informed judgment,” SEC special counsel Evan S. Jacobson said in a December 5th letter to Apple executives, informing them that regulators would not recommend enforcement action if the company omits the resolution from its proxy materials, thereby preventing a vote.

… the company says it is moving towards its “goal to run 100 percent of its worldwide operations on renewable energy and lead the way towards reducing carbon emissions from manufacturing.”

That stated goal was cited by Christie Jantz, whose Boston-based firm specializes in socially responsible investments, in her push for the shareholder resolution. The initiative proposed to let shareholders cast an up-or-down vote on a resolution saying, “shareholders request that the Board of Directors generate a feasible plan for the Company to reach a net-zero [greenhouse gas] emission status by the year 2030 for all aspects of the business which are directly owned by the Company and major suppliers.”

The company is not in a position to require its major suppliers to change their business operations to reduce their emissions or engage in other operations to offset their emissions,” Levoff wrote. “Because the Company cannot compel its major suppliers and regulatory agencies in countries where they operate to take action on carbon emissions as requested by the proposal, it is impossible for the company to produce the plan without intervening actions by third parties.”

Read more:

Green businesses are often accused of using offshoring of jobs to sweep emissions under the carpet. The CO2 emissions still occur, but they happen out of sight. Companies greenwash their business activities by closing US factories and offshoring jobs to countries which either don’t monitor emissions, or countries like China which get free pass from greens, because they are considered to be a “developing” nation.

This Apple legal manoeuvring in my opinion is yet another example of callous corporate green hypocrisy. Apple could fully manufacture their products in the USA, and in doing so provide new manufacturing jobs for 10s of thousands of Americans, but to do so might mean increased scrutiny of their supply chain and business operations, particularly their now rather tarnished claims that they care about CO2 emissions.

106 thoughts on “Apple Evades Green Demand for a CO2 Emissions Timetable

  1. Now now don’t be too hard on little Green apples or BIG APPLE for that matter as they might be waiting on the Holy Grail to be sure about this burning up stuff-
    And here was us thinking the science was settled but folks like Apple just might know a bit more than we laypeople.

    • From your link:
      “We’re particularly interested in the link between CO2 and temperature,” he said.
      “We know for the last 800,000 years from ice cores that these two things march in lockstep but we don’t know what happened beyond that 800,000-year mark.”
      Yup, in lockstep, temperatures rise then CO2 follows.

    • well I wish that Apple would quit polluting the environment of Sunnyvale CA, with all of their damn constructions.
      It seems that every day, there are road digging crews out tearing up a new section of a major Sunnyvale commute street, all for the sole benefit of Apple. So you re-direct your commute drive tomorrow and there they are, moving the digs to your new route. It has been going on now for at least three years, and they are building multiple giant edifices to the memory of Steve Jobs; all of which has driven the cost of living in Sunnyvale sky high.
      And just where do you imagine Apple plans to import the workers from, who are going to live in all those Apple rabbit warrens; along with their parents and grand parents and aunts, and uncles, and brothers and sisters.
      The Google busses are going to need to be undecimated to handle all the Apple commuters.
      You haven’t lived until you have enjoyed being held up at a traffic light, while Apple yuppies dawdle across in sheep file, with their eyes glued firmly on their finger toys.
      They would run into the side of the google busses if someone didn’t nudge them to wake up.
      The newest Apple-Plex being built at Wolfe and Arques, will certainly put the Solyndra Taj to shame.
      I figure they must have 20,000 adjustable screw jacks holding up all the floors of those four buildings, while the concrete slowly develops some structural strength. I can’t wait to see how much glass they are going to use on that edifice.

    • Yes. Both he and Green scamster Elon Musk are on the board.
      I sold AAPL when Cookie said that climate d@niers should sell. BoD should have fired him the next day.

  2. Regarding Apple bringing jobs to the States – I seriously doubt Americans want to work in Foxconn type conditions. I mean sure, if you want to pay triple or more for your smartphone, go ahead.
    Why do you think Motorola shut down their operation here?

    • “I mean sure, if you want to pay triple or more for your smartphone, go ahead.”
      Yeah, right. Because labour makes up just so much of the cost of a $600 smartphone.

    • Well, PM, as the former SVP Mot head of global strategy in the late 1990’s, I could give you other answers. At that time, we had 10000 employees in Tianjin, China plus 7000 in Panang Malaysia and 400 in Singapore. Labor cost was not at that time fatal. Building the Harvey Il manufacturing plant when no one could recruit workers on 90 minute each way bus rides was just stupidity. Basic further corporate stupidity about investment priorities and overhead cost disciplines (HR and Finance) ultimately proved fatal. I left rather than being tarred with that brush, as discovered could not change it by myself. Man, painful memories.

  3. Multinational corporations answer to nobody, not even the shareholders. link
    Apple is doing its level best to avoid paying any taxes, especially to the American government. link

    • CFO’s have fiduciary responsibility to minimize taxes; nothing wrong with that, snarky comments not withstanding. Just a guess, but you (or at least 99.9% of taxpayers) claim all legally allowed deductions to reduce taxes.
      Most of Apple’s sales are outside the USA; hard to justify bringing it all back & paying highest marginal corporate tax rate in western world.

    • I guess you missed the Bloomberg story this week that outlined how Apple is buying US Treasury bills with all of that offshore money it has. So far, Apple has gotten $400 million in interest.

    • “Multinational corporations answer to nobody, not even the shareholders”
      Apparently CommieBob hasn’t researched govt regulations lately. At least not since 1905, apparently. Yeah, the world is really lacking in business regulations. Really need more.

      • There is a difference between being regulated (technicality) and being responsible (morality).
        Many corporations basically let you die and pretend they care, they are amoral, that’s a good reason for regulation. But in the end no amount of regulation fixes the missing moral. Free market requires tools for the customers to make sure there is some real competition. One common state of a free market is a monopoly (or monopsony) or an oligopoly with cartel, which should be avoided. Free market should not mean freedom to build a blood-letting system.

      • It has always fascinated me how leftists automatically assume that if you work for a company, you instantly become an evil person.

      • Businesses rely on repeat customers to make a profit. It costs a lot of money to attract new customers.
        Killing your customers is murder on repeat business.
        The idea that don’t care if their products hurt their customers is common knowledge in various left wing circles, but it bears no resemblance to reality.

    • “Apple is doing its level best to avoid paying any taxes, especially to the American government. ”
      So does Trump. So what’s the problem?

    • Paying as little in taxes as you can is every companies fiduciary duty.
      Not doing that gets managers fired.
      If Apple’s stock were to plummet, you can be assured that management would be sacked by the share holders. Just because a minority of share holders can’t micro-manage the company is not evidence that companies don’t respond to share holder interests.

  4. Right on, Peter Morris. “Apple could fully manufacture their products in the USA”. Yes, but no one would buy them – way too expensive. Going-out-of -business plan.

    • It depends on what is meant by “make”. I have seen reports that the assembly cost is well under 10%, as most of the cost is contracted parts and design.

      • Tom
        Assuming 10% is accurate, 10% of what? Total price or total cost?
        This blog does better when dealing with science.

        • My memory was sort of right as to the assembly cost of the Apple iphone 7, but 10% was way high. has the net cost to Apple as 231.50, with $8 being the assembly cost on a phonw with a price of $450.

      • Talking of costs to makers on stuff. I worked for Honda in Swindon in the 90’s and you would be surprised how cheap stuff is to make.

  5. The truly green position is more CO2 to alleviate the planet’s CO2 crash. BTW, as far as I know, I am the first person to accurately describe it as a crash. During the last glacial period, it hit the floor at which plants start to die and release CO2, probably for the first time in earth’s history.

      • And what level of CO2 is dangerous Griff, put your money where your posts are, tell us what is the “correct” level of CO2 for the planet, for the climate and for all life? What say you oh wise one?

      • There is no ‘correct’ level of CO2, of course…
        It will always vary over geologic time.
        However the levels are increasing in a rapid timescale (geologically speaking) and this has an effect on climate. This is indisputable physics. Restricting CO2 will have an effect on climate.
        and what is this CO2 is going to crash meme I see in these comments?

      • and what exactly is this fanciful effect on climate? Every time CO2 is at its highest, we get a new ice cap. Whatever is driving the climate completely overwhelms whatever piddling effect CO2 has, obviously.

      • However the levels are increasing in a rapid timescale (geologically speaking) and this has an effect on climate.

        This is pure speculation.
        The ice core data is best suited to showing changes over millennia. The best guess resolution is 50 years – and that assumes the fern is sealed immediately (NOAA doc here).
        You can’t say that two data points for comparison shows a vastly different trend.
        It would be more accurate to say,
        “However the levels are increasing in a timescale that is indistinguishable from every other period in the record (geologically speaking) and this may have an effect on climate.
        Or it may not.”

      • Having an affect, and proving that the affect is big enough to worry about are two entirely different things.
        Things that you alarmists often gloss over.
        Merely declaring that something has changed is not evidence that it is changing for the worse.

      • The time lag between temperature change and CO2 change might very well be caused by the overall changes in global flora (caused by temperature changes). Plants NEED warmth. There is no spot on Earth too hot (save volcanos) for plants to grow, but there are plenty of spots too cold for plant life. Plants NEED CO2. When there is a lot they grow faster and capture it. As the temperatures fall the plants die off and become buried and biological activities slow down. When the temperatures begin to rise again biological activities ramp and cause the sequestered CO2 to become re-released into the atmosphere for the floral bloom to begin anew.
        The tail does not wag the dog.

      • Griff, “what is this CO2 is going to crash meme I see in these comments?
        CO2 went to about 180 ppmv during the last glaciation. At 120 ppmv, photosynthesis turns off for lack of CO2, at about 80 ppmv, plants just die. 25,00 years ago, Earth’s ecology was starving.
        Human CO2 emissions have given the terrestrial biosphere a huge positive boost. Enviros should be dancing in the streets over it. One could propose (were one a deep green nutcase) that humans are a plan of Gaia to give herself a much longer life.
        Griff, “This is indisputable physics.” Radiation physics is indisputable. The effect of CO2 on surface air temperature (the central issue, after all) is completely disputable and entirely undemonstrable.

  6. @p. morris & ECK:
    Tariffs and MFN are what makes a iPhone affordable… Take away those benefits and remove the Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich and suddenly the USA looks mighty good for manufacturing.

    • Your less than astute economic analysis is falsified by the ongoing collapse of manufacturing employment in the USA.

      • Look at the amount of “recycled” paper, and wood scrap shipped to China and then shipped back to the USA as paper, available in your closest office supply store, and sold for half the price of any made in the USA – if even available. Try filling up a shopping cart with paper made in the USA at any of these office supply stores. Same for steel, plywood, wallboard, sheetrock, and even most framing lumber.

      • @usurbrain:
        USA manufacturing has been competing against slave labor, true slave labor.
        It is impossible to compete with slave labor… and that’s the reason why companies move manufacturing overseas. I, for one, have a deep ethical concern about buying products that are made cheaply at the expense of human dignity and enslavement, including very young children. Fortunately, Trump won the election and perhaps the price of goods will rise in the USA…. however, the market for goods made with actual slave labor will hopefully be diminished greatly.
        Trump’s election may be a huge win for human dignity world wide.

      • unknown; false on two counts.
        First the labor rate is far from zero.
        Second, labor is a pretty small fraction of the total cost for many products.

  7. “allowing Apple to disenfranchise its own stockholders without fear of punishment.”
    Left wing ninnies to the contrary notwithstanding. Apple is disenfranchising no one. The shareholders do not have a general right to vote on anything or everything. Corporations are creatures of positive law (corporation statutes) and of contract (the charter and by-laws of the corporation). The law says that the business of the corporation is run by its board of directors. The courts have recognized that this means that the business of the corporation is not run by the shareholders.
    The rights of the shareholders are limited to voting on the election of directors and certain other matters such as amendments to the charter, mergers, sales of all assets, and dissolution. Even if a resolution on another topic is presented to a meeting of the shareholders, a vote does not and cannot relieve the directors of their duty and responsibility.

    • And, every year a large corporations receives perhaps ten shareholder resolutions that attempting to dictate how companies must carry our corporate business. When a corporation receives such resolutions, they inform the SEC and explain why the corporation believes the resolution is concerned with the ordinary business of the company, which is the responsibility of the Board of Directors, not the shareholders. (A Board of Directors can be sued for their mistakes, but shareholders – by delegating the responsibility for ordinary business – are not held liable.) The SEC tells companies whether they will object to a company’s decision not to offer a vote on a resolution.
      I suspect that resolutions on corporate CO2 emissions policies have been offered dozens of times in the past and routinely not been put to a vote.

  8. “The Securities and Exchange Commission told Apple that the company would not face sanctions if executives blocked shareholders from voting on a non-binding proposal to eliminate Apple’s climate-related pollution — in effect,allowing Apple to disenfranchise its own stockholders without fear of punishment.”
    I’m more worried about what our own government is doing to us under the Obama regime than what the Russians may be doing to us. The corruption in our system goes deep and wide and the most dangerous to our system of constitutional republic is the green movement. It is insidious and far reaching.

  9. There are about 7 labor hours in every iPhone that sells for $650 (without carrier subsidy). If you paid your American workers $22/hr, it would increase the cost of the phone by less than $150. On the other hand, there’s nearly $500 in profit on every phone.

      • The site has a listing of the component prices and “manufacturing” which I take to mean assembly. The 231.50 is costs external to Apple, apparently.

    • “There are about 7 labor hours in every iPhone that sells for $650”
      I honestly don’t see how someone could spend seven hours making an iPhone, unless Apple have people soldering all the chips onto the board by hand, one lead at a time. When I worked for an electronics manufacturer, the boards were never touched by human hand until final testing.
      I mean, that’s about one-and-a-half phones per person per day. That would be insane for just about any manufacturer.

      • It covers the entire supply chain, up to and including putting the various chips into their shipping containers.

    • That’s a phoney profit, since it only covers the cost to actually manufacture an i-phone. It doesn’t cover any of the development or support costs, nor does it cover the cost of over head.

  10. Even if Apple’s manufacturing processes are ‘carbon neutral’ and ‘green’, they are making products that require electricity to power them and the customers will generally not be using ‘green’ power.
    Shouldn’t the shareholders be trying to destroy the company that is making earth-destroying products?

  11. Those green shareholders won’t be visible when CO2 levels drop into the catastrophic levels
    that existed around the time of the Civil war. An Emily Lattella moment : “Opps! Nevermind.”

      • CO2 levels have been dropping for millions of years, until man started burning fossil fuels. What makes you think that something that has been happening for millions of years, has stopped?

  12. I love it that when push comes to shove, Apple is all about making money – ultimately this attitude will save us from the Green eco-extremists.

  13. “Apple could fully manufacture their products in the USA, and in doing so provide new manufacturing jobs for 10s of thousands of Americans”
    Yes, and the reason they don’t isn’t about anything green. It is because they make much higher profits.

    • Yes, and why would that be Nick? Might I suggest that if Govn’ts make doing stuff very expensive, companies will find ways to make the same stuff cheaper, somewhere else. Offshoring began in the late 80’s and early 90’s for this reason. Eventually, another country will be cheaper to make stuff. It is China and India right now, but India is getting “expensive” and corporations are starting to look elsewhere.

      • The cheapest location does move around. Remember when loads of stuff was made in Taiwan? And it was used as an insult to say something was Made in Taiwan. Costs rose there and the cheap manufacturing moved out, mainly to China, to be replaced by high tech chip fab foundries. Some parts of China are getting expensive so Vietnam and Bangladesh are being used. Malaysia had a period of making electrical goods too I think.
        Noteworthy is the lack of use of Africa. Poor infrastructure and mental despot rulers is preventing them from benefitting from manufacturing jobs.

      • Before Taiwan, the cheapest place was Japan. When I was in high school, “Made in Japan” was code for cheap.

  14. Eric. Are you a denier or believer? It’s hard for me to judge from your latest piece on Apple.
    Part of the reason people go to China for manufacturing electronics is because it is not a “clean” industry that would be subject to EPA rules in the U.S. Chemicals used to etch circuit boards and other processes in computers and phones are problematic in the U.S.
    As for CO2 and Apple: they are like Gore. They say they are green, but they spew more than they save.

  15. I get giddy when Apple crows.
    ‘the company says it is moving towards its “goal to run 100 percent of its worldwide operations on renewable energy and lead the way towards reducing carbon emissions from manufacturing.”’
    Get into Google Earth, and enter the location:
    Apple Data Center, Startown Road, Maiden, NC
    Nice solar farm to the right/east to power the data center. Running the data center on renewable energy.
    It’s a head fake. Look to the left/west of the data center. A nice big substation. With power lines coming in from both north and south (good design!). Look at the SW side of the solar farm. There is a substation. Power lines from it go west across Startown Road. Then north/south on the west side of the road. There is no evidence of any connection to the data center at all.

  16. The best way to meet demands of no greenhouse emmissions woud be to go completley out of busniness. It is almost imposible to find employes who do not exhale or perspire and who do not need transporation too and from work by means that require the use of fossil fuels. Then there is the problem of the transportation of materials to and from manufacturing plants via transportation systems that do not make use of fossil fuels. Another problem is that in this competetive world increasing costs compared to competitors may quickly put one out of business. Slowly reducing the value of the companies stock to zero may not be very popular among stock holders. Besides the climate change we have been experiencing is caused by the sun and the oceans over which Mankind has no control. There is no evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate and hence no evidence that the companies lowering of CO2 emmissions will have any effect on global climate.

  17. Who says Apple needs to interfere with their suppliers? Just take some of their obscene profits and pay for carbon credits.
    If the bigwigs running the company were smart they would have forseen this likely outcome and bought a whole slew of carbon credits to sell back to the company at a steep profit.
    They could charge 2-3x more for the iPhone and people would still pay. Just like Disney could charge 2-3x more for admission and DisneyLand would still be crowded.
    Frankly, I’d much rather have half the country pay double the cost of the hare-brained policies they enact, and let the other half off the hook. Apple could show “leadership” by doing just that by pricing in all sorts of mumbo jumbo social costs.

    • Apple are masters of the desire for people to want the latest. Once, when a new iPhone was released it actually was an upgrade, it had more RAM/CPU etc etc. Then, I think with the iPhone 5, people were binning their perfectly good iPhone for the same thing, but just in a different colour.
      I have to admit, I now use an iPhone 6 and that was because my Samsmugs Galaxy 5 failed, and I was given a repaired iPhone, which is effectively new, for free.

      • My sisters kids are unbelievably spoiled. I have a Samsung Galaxy s4 with a cracked screen. We were over there for a party and they got a package from sprint. Her son grabbed it and ran downstairs, then came sprinting back up 5 minutes later in a huff. They sent him an iphone 6, not the iphone 7 ‘jet black’ he wanted. His younger sister came up and was demanding that their mom call sprint up immediately, saying “You think he wants an iphone 6!?”
        My spouse and i just looked at each other and smiled. We aren’t sure if it was a mistake, if the mom intentionally ordered the i6 instead, or what the real story was. But to listen to an 8 year old kid berate her parent over how horrible it is to get an iphone6 instead of 7 was just too funny.

  18. The Greens give free passes to countries like China that tell them to go to hell so as not to crush their CO2 agenda. They wiggle around strong no’s to hunt for victims to harass.

  19. Any company that sends you a ‘software upgrade’ which destroys the functionality of your iPhone 5….thereby forcing you to buy an iPhone 6…should not be trusted!
    The weird thing is that I caved and bought the iPhone 6…next time they try that I’m going Android!

      • If you don’t read what they say they are doing (and why they are doing it), how are you going to comment on what they are doing? Of if they did it?
        Try googling a few more large companies -Diageo, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor and Gamble, GM, Walmart and see what they are doing on sustainability/renewable energy… or Ford maybe.

      • These large companies you reference are doing nothing but public relations BS that has been either been forced upon them by legislation and intimidation and are trying to buy good will. OR are part of the intimidation process themselves, in which case they are part of the problem. As are you.
        Please do not suggest there has been any free will involved here – certainly no critical thought. It’s coercion, and the only variable is which side of lever any given company his on.

    • “What exactly is this article trying to say?”
      That large corporations know full well that so called “renewables” will destroy the company, and so they will not/cannot actually do it.
      Climate skeptics know this, and say this. Corporations know it, but usually refuse to publicly say it. Environmentalists can’t do either. They are the people that the D-word truly applies to.

    • “For starters, as of January 2016, we’re sourcing or generating enough renewable energy
      to cover 93 percent of the electricity we use at our facilitiesworldwide.

      We’re working hard to reach 100 percent renewable energy for all
      of our facilities worldwide, and help our suppliers in China and everywhere around
      the world make the same transition to clean energy as we have.”
      Apple’s report makes a distinction between energy that THEY use vs the energy their suppliers use. They can “suggest”, but they can’t force it. What is Apple going to do? Go to another manufacturer in china that also doesn’t have “green” power? This resolution would basically force Apple to make the demand, and then create all of their own Fabs? Talk about killing profit.

  20. “The proposal seeks to micromanage the company by probing too deeply into matters of a complex nature upon which shareholders, as a group, would not be in a position to make an informed judgment” –
    inversed judgment

  21. What’s worrying here is the hypocracy, or is it double standards, or lying or mind blowing stupidity?
    The shareholders say they want ‘green’ but by the definition of being shareholders, they want money. They want their investment(s) to grow or yield dividends.
    Where the fook do they think this extra money is coming from, if not via the age old process of ‘adding value’?
    IOW, taking A Resource and doing work or expending energy on it to increase its value.
    As we all recognise, ‘recycling’ is the biggest joke of all, expending time/money/effort on worthless junk like paper/plastic/glass. Unless your time & energy are remarkably cheap – as per China for example.
    But we’re talking very high tech semiconductors here. A figure I recall from 2 or 3 years ago said that it took as much energy to manufacture one single Large Scale Integration chip (eg a graphics controller or memory chip) as the energy used by the entire computer it was installed in over the typical 3 year life of that computer.
    Look in your laptop, there might be 16 such chips making up a SODIMM memory card and thats before you’ve got a processor, graphics, screen controller, HDD, DVD drive or even plugged a mouse into it.
    Maybe not so many in a phone but still a massive expenditure of energy for the chips in there plus the screen – none of which are, or even can be, recycled.
    Do these green folks realise this? Are they wilfully dumb or just plain dumb?
    Then look at all the infrastructure to make the phones work, networking & servers & switches etc. Recently the good ol’ BBC admitted it burned more kWh running servers ‘broadcasting’ its iPlayer over the internet (maybe 1M consumers) than it used powering its entire conventional broadcasting network = masts, repeater stations broadcasting to 60M consumers.
    Do such things even register in people’s minds…..

    • They register in the minds of those running google, amazon, apple, etc who are all working at driving their operations on 100% renewable electricity… especially their server farms.

      • That is what they are telling YOU, Griff, because YOU want to hear it. That YOU believe they are actually doing it will certainly warm the hearts of executives in the marketing department. The production departments will be saying, internally, “No. This will ruin us.”

      • No company with a brain is going to hamstring themselves if they don’t have to… even if they have publicists that try to make you think so.
        Especially when there’s no viable reason to, other than hysterical greenies.

      • It’s so much easier to just tell the Greenies that you agree with them, but do nothing.
        As Griff demonstrates, as long as he has a press release to point to, he’s happy.

    • The corporate rules are probably same as in the UK. The shareholders own the company and a share of rights to profits. And they can vote to decide who sits on the board of directors. But directors rule and run the company. Their first legal responsibility is not to the the shareholders, but to the company itself, which in many respects has rights like individual people also have rights.

    • No, they ruled that the executives run the company. If the shareholders want to run the company, they can change the charter.

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