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Shareholder motion asks Apple to aim for net-zero greenhouse gases by 2030

A measure coming up for voting by Apple shareholders asks Apple to explore options for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions —for both its own operations and major suppliers —by 2030.

If approved, the Apple board of directors would have to issue a report to shareholders by June 30 "assessing the feasibility and setting forth policy options" for Apple hitting the net-zero target. As noted in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the measure's core backer is an investment firm, Jantz Management, which argues that targeting zero emissions is "crucial for both the safety of the environment and for shareholder value."

The firm specifically points to December's Paris Agreement on climate change, which settled on limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial temeratures, and 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) if at all possible. Most researchers agree that the latter cap will involve reaching zero anthropogenic emissions between 2030 and 2050, according to Jantz.

Though often eager to promote a "green" image, Apple recently recommended voting against the proposed report, claiming that it would be "largely duplicative of Apple's existing public disclosures." Jantz dismisses this view, suggesting that the document is needed to augment Apple's brand and credibility, and hence stock value.

The company further says that Apple's current plans for reducing manufacturing emissions will offset less than 20 percent, even after factoring in solar power projects installed by both Apple and its primary manufacturer, Foxconn. It notes that Siemens —another major multinational corporation —has announced plans to hit a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030, even claiming it will save tens of millions per year after its initial investment valued at about $108.6 million.

Apple's annual shareholder meeting is scheduled for Feb. 26. The iPhone maker is also recommending that shareholders vote against a measure that would require more racial diversity in its elite ranks.