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.”
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.