Apple Goes Full Climate Warrior After Trump’s Paris Climate Exit

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Apple offered a $1 billion green energy bond Tuesday shortly after the company’s CEO criticized President Donald Trump for bowing out of the Paris climate accord.

Apple’s tax exempt bond is expected to finance various clean energy and environmental projects. The tech company’s green bond is the first offered since Trump withdrew from the climate deal earlier this month.

The iPhone producer issued its first green bond of $1.5 billion after former President Barack Obama signed the non-binding agreement in 2015, which obligates America to reduce 28 percent of greenhouse gasses by 2030. The second green bond merely assures foreign government that the U.S. is still committed to meeting Paris’ obligations, Apple officials said.

“Leadership from the business community is essential to address the threat of climate change and protect our shared planet,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy, said in a statement announcing the decision.

Green bonds have grown in popularity during the last few years, especially in 2016, when companies issued $81 billion of green bonds, which is double the number issued in 2015, according to Climate Bonds Initiative, a project founded to promote environmental causes.

Apple directed $442 million of last year’s bond to 16 different projects from renewable energy to recycling. The Silicon Valley company generates significant tax benefits from its sizable green energy projects, especially the Apple Energy, a subsidiary company that produces and sells solar power.

The company acquired tax credits last year after kick-starting the subsidiary, which won federal approval from the Federal Energy Regulation Commission in 2016 to start selling excess energy from its various California and Nevada solar farms. Instead of buying solar electricity from another operator, FERC’s approval gave Apple the ability to sell the juice from its own clean power plants.

Apple’s strategy bolstered CEO Tim Cook’s environmental credentials, gave them some independence from the broader U.S. electric grid, and allowed the company to take advantage of the investment tax credit (ITC), which helped reduce Apple’s tax burden. The credit gives breaks to owners of solar projects worth 30 percent of project costs.

Cutting the Paris agreement causes solar and wind power to be deployed more slowly, according to John Sterman, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and senior advisor at ClimateInteractive, a project that crunches the numbers for those involved in the climate deal.

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