Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Apple Update Throttles iPhone Charging To Reduce Carbon Footprint

Millions of iPhone owners who updated to Apple’s latest operating system over the last six months may have noticed that their phones are charging a little slower than usual since they did so. For that, they can thank the climate change activists at Apple’s Cupertino, California, headquarters.

Apple installed a new feature on those phones — Clean Energy Charging — and automatically signed up all users for the service. When activated, the feature allows users to reduce their carbon footprint by charging the phone more slowly when renewable sources of energy, such as solar or wind power, are not widely available on the electric grid.

“When Clean Energy Charging is enabled and you connect your iPhone to a charger,” Apple says, “your iPhone gets a forecast of the carbon emissions in your local energy grid and uses it to charge your iPhone during times of cleaner energy production.”

Apple included the option in the latest update to its operating system, iOS 16.1, released in October. It was included without warning or much in the way of notice, and the updated iPhones are automatically signed up for the option. To turn it off, users have to be aware of what is going on, and wade deep into the iPhone settings in order to turn it off.

Apple touts it as a feature. Many users, who might have been as to baffled why their phones weren’t charging very quickly, are calling it a bug. Apple says the option is only available on iPhones in the United States.

Many iPhone users who updated months ago were caught unaware when alerted about the new feature in a Twitter post over the weekend. Many reported that when they attempted to turn off the feature, a pop-up tried to dissuade them from doing so by reminding them yet again that clean energy charging reduces their carbon footprint.

The CEO of a thermal energy company, a self-avowed clean energy enthusiast, Tim Latimer, said on Twitter Sunday that he was glad Apple is working on dynamic charging to shift to low carbon hours, “but the way they rolled it out isn’t great. Limited awareness, default position is opted in. We should demand better transparency and choice for clean energy solutions or it’s going to backfire.”

Marjorie Taylor Green, the bombastic Republican congresswoman of Georgia, bragged that she turned off the feature Sunday in order to increase her carbon footprint. “I believe in feeding trees,” she wrote, above an illustration of the role carbon dioxide plays in photosynthesis.

Congressman Chip Roy of Texas also mocked Apple’s attempt to force its climate concerns on customers who spent a thousand dollars for their iPhones. “Don’t forget to plug in your 2 Electric Vehicles! (equivalent to 20 household refrigerators),” he wrote. “And don’t ask where the iphones were made or rare earth materials sourced from!”


Trump vows ban on $8.4 trillion ESG juggernaut

Former President Donald Trump, who is once again running for president as Republican in 2024, has promised in a video post on Truth Social to ban via executive order and changes to federal law Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) retirement investments that have led to divestment from traditional U.S. energy production in violation of federal antitrust laws and racial and gender hiring quotas that appear to violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

ESG investments in the U.S. have grown to $8.4 trillion in 2022, according to the latest data by the USSIF, The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.

“When I’m in the White House I will sign an executive order and with Congress’ support a law to keep politics away from America’s retirement accounts forever. I will demand that funds invest your money to help you, not them, but to help you, not to help radical left communists…” Trump said in the video, promising an executive order that will direct departments and agencies to end these perverse subsidies.

Here, Trump is in part referring to changes made to federal regulations including the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by the Barack Obama Labor Department in 2015 allowing ESG investments into tax-deferred, employer-based retirement savings accounts like the $6.3 trillion 401(k) market and other .

A 2020 regulation by the Trump Labor Department watered this regulation down a bit, mirroring a 2008 regulation by the George W. Bush Labor Department, but was promptly overturned via a May 2021 executive order by President Joe Biden defining climate change a financial risk under ERISA and affirmed later via a 2022 regulation by the Biden Labor Department. The 2008 regulation was actually a revision of a 1994 regulation by the Bill Clinton Labor Department, which in turn were revisions to the rules made by prior administrations.

These attempts to hold back ESG depend on fiduciary rules, that state as long as investments remain profitable commensurate with other non-ESG investments, then environmental, social and other factors may be taken into consideration when making economically targeted investments.

All of these rules are based on the fiduciary duties and obligations defined under federal law in 29 U.S.C. Section 1104, which states, “a fiduciary shall discharge his duties with respect to a plan solely in the interest of the participants and beneficiaries and… for the exclusive purpose of … providing benefits to participants and their beneficiaries; and … defraying reasonable expenses of administering the plan; …

with the care, skill, prudence, and diligence under the circumstances then prevailing that a prudent man acting in a like capacity and familiar with such matters would use in the conduct of an enterprise of a like character and with like aims; …

by diversifying the investments of the plan so as to minimize the risk of large losses, unless under the circumstances it is clearly prudent not to do so; and … in accordance with the documents and instruments governing the plan insofar as such documents and instruments are consistent with the provisions of this subchapter and subchapter III.”

Contrary to former President Trump’s claim that he “issued an historic rule banning Wall Street and employers from pouring your 401(k)s, pensions and retirement accounts into so-called ESG… investments for political reasons,” none of these rules, including the one issued by his Labor Department ever did away with ESG. I don’t believe Trump is lying at all, instead, perhaps his advisors told him what he did somehow banned it, but it’s simply not true, Mr. President. If only it were true.

Like the 2008 Bush Labor Department regulation — and every other rulemaking on this subject in fact — the 2020 Trump Labor Department once again affirmed the “all things being equal” test. None have dared to overturn that via a rulemaking.

The 2020 rulemaking stated, “Under the final rule, plan fiduciaries, when making decisions on investments and investment courses of action, must focus solely on the plan’s financial risks and returns and keep the interests of plan participants and beneficiaries in their plan benefits paramount. The fundamental principle is that an ERISA fiduciary’s evaluation of plan investments must be focused solely on economic considerations that have a material effect on the risk and return of an investment based on appropriate investment horizons, consistent with the plan’s funding policy and investment policy objectives. The corollary principle is that ERISA fiduciaries must never sacrifice investment returns, take on additional investment risk, or pay higher fees to promote non-pecuniary benefits or goals.”

So far, so good, but then the Trump Labor Department, like every single Labor Department before it, affirmed ESG investments would continue to be allowed by fiduciaries: “The final rule recognizes that there are instances where one or more environmental, social, or governance factors will present an economic business risk or opportunity that corporate officers, directors, and qualified investment professionals would appropriately treat as material economic considerations under generally accepted investment theories.”

Repeat: “[T]here are instances where one or more environmental, social, or governance factors will present an economic business risk…”

That is no ban, Mr. President. It’s an authorization that explicitly left it up to fiduciaries to decide what financial risk factors there were. One could say it was “neutral” at best, which is to say, again, it did nothing to stop ESG investments.

But, in fact, the Labor Department explicitly stated there was no ban, and discouraged that interpretation of the rulemaking in 2020, stating, “Many commenters interpreted paragraph (c)(3)(iii) of the proposal as a ban on any investment alternative serving as a [Qualified Default Investment Alternative] QDIA if the investment alternative (or any component of the investment alternative) was constructed using any ‘E’, ‘S’, or ‘G’ factor even if such factor was pecuniary in nature… (i.e., it has a material effect on the risk and/or return of the investment based on an appropriate time horizon)…

That was not the Department’s intention or, in the Department’s view, a reasonable reading of paragraph (c)(3)(iii) of the proposal. The intent behind that paragraph, rather, was to prohibit an investment alternative (or any component of the investment alternative) whose investment objectives or principal strategies included a nonfinancial goal from being a QDIA… The foregoing misinterpretation notwithstanding, some commenters supported a ban on any investment alternative serving as a QDIA if the investment alternative (or any component of the investment alternative) was constructed using ESG factors…

This refocusing is an acknowledgement that individual ‘E’, ‘S’, and ‘G’ factors can be both pecuniary and non-pecuniary in nature, and that the selection of ESG funds is not per se prudent or imprudent.”

To be fair, Trump did stop the now $714 billion federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Thrift Savings Plan from making similar kinds of investments, which did not begin making such investments until 2022 after President Joe Biden gave it the green light.


New study finds global warming contributes to thousands of gun deaths

Global warming causes EVERYTHING

As temperatures across the country soar and unseasonably warm days continue, the number of gun deaths across the country has gone up.

Nearly 8,000 gun shootings can be attributed to extreme temperatures, according to research published by JAMA Network.

The study analyzed 100 major U.S. cities with the highest proportion of gun violence between 2015 and 2020. It found that out of 116 ,511 shootings, roughly 6.85% (or 7,973) were attributable to above-average temperatures.

Gun violence, as well as other types of violence, such as road rage, is known to worsen in the summer. Warmer temperatures increase the body’s stress hormones in the nervous system, which may heighten violent impulses.

People also spend more time outdoors when the weather is warm, which makes encounters with others — and the potential for lethal clashes — more likely.


Australian regulator sues firm in greenwashing crackdown

Mercer Superannuation is the first company being dragged to court by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission for allegedly making misleading statements about the sustainability of some of its investment products, as the regulator looks to crack down on greenwashing.

In a media release on Tuesday, ASIC announced it was commencing civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court against the super fund for greenwashing – a move which the regulator’s deputy chair Sarah Court said reflected a growing area of concern. Greenwashing is when companies overstate or lie about their environmental credentials.

“There is increased demand for sustainability-related financial products, and with that comes the growing risk of misleading marketing and greenwashing,” she said.

“The vast majority of Australians already investing in sustainable options are looking to continue to do so, and [...] funds being invested in sustainability-related options are just growing exponentially. If financial products make sustainable investment claims to investors and potential investors, they need to reflect the true position.”

ASIC alleges Mercer made misleading statements on its website about the nature and characteristics of the “Sustainable Plus” investment options offered by the Mercer Super Trust, of which Mercer is the trustee.

The Sustainable Plus options were marketed as suitable for members who “are deeply committed to sustainability” because they excluded investments in companies involved in carbon intensive fossil fuels like thermal coal.

Two-thirds of companies in misleading ‘greenwashing’ claims
But ASIC alleges that members who took up the Sustainable Plus options had investments in industries the website statements said were excluded. This included investments in 15 companies involved in the extraction or sale of carbon intensive fossil fuels, such as AGL Energy, mining giant BHP and Whitehaven Coal.

Mercer also stated that the Sustainable Plus options excluded investments in companies involved in alcohol production and gambling. However, ASIC alleged it found investments in 15 companies involved in the production of alcohol and 19 companies involved in gambling.

ASIC said these statements and investments amounted to Mercer engaging in conduct that could mislead the public, and that it sought declarations and financial penalties from the court. It is also seeking injunctions preventing Mercer from continuing to make the alleged misleading statements on its website, and orders requiring Mercer to publicise any breaches found by the court.

ASIC has issued more than $140,000 in infringement notices for alleged greenwashing, levelled against companies such as Tlou Energy, Vanguard Investments Australia, Diversa Trustees and Black Mountain Energy.

But the regulator’s first court proceeding in this area reflects a sharpened focus on action against greenwashing as outlined in ASIC’s 2023 Enforcement Priorities.

“We’re now ramping up,” deputy chair Sarah Court said. “We have made very clear to the industry what we are concerned about. The importance of these court actions is that, if the court rules in ASIC’s favour, it sends a message not just to Mercer, but to the industry more broadly that if you are going to make these kinds of representation, you need to be very sure that you can implement the exclusions you are promising investors.”

The move comes after the Financial Services Royal Commission gave rise to legislative amendments which enhanced ASIC’s powers to take action regarding a broader range of superannuation trustee conduct.

Mercer is not the only superannuation fund potentially misleading consumers.

Market Forces campaigner Brett Morgan said analysis conducted by his firm in July last year found that eight out of 11 major Australian super fund investment options labelled “sustainable” or “socially responsible” were investing in companies expanding in the fossil fuel sector.

“We looked at the investment options offered by Australia’s biggest super funds, with those labels, and compared their investments to a piece of work we did on the 180 global companies most responsible for fossil fuel expansion,” he said.

ASIC takes first compliance action over greenwashing
Morgan said the court action from ASIC was a positive step, but that he would continue to keep an eye on the super funds.

“Super funds are now required to publish their investment holdings every six months, so we continue to analyse those and will continue to publish analyses of their holdings,” Morgan said. “The court action is a big step-up from ASIC and should send shockwaves through the superannuation industry, and corporate Australia more broadly.”

Court said there was “no end of matters” getting referred to the regulator, and that she anticipated further enforcement action against greenwashing this year.

A Mercer spokeswoman said the company was considering ASIC’s concerns, but that it would be inappropriate to comment further because the matter is before the courts.

“Mercer has co-operated with ASIC throughout its investigation, and will continue to carefully consider ASIC’s concerns with respect to this matter,” she said.


My other blogs. Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM )

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


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