Apple chief executive Tim Cook has clashed with investors who questioned whether the firm's focus on green energy use and efficiency is distracting from its focus on new products and making a profit.
Cook told climate change sceptic investors they should ditch their stocks in Apple if they do not support his pledge to slash greenhouse gas emissions, in the latest signal that the company will continue to invest in sustainable energy.
According to the Mac Observer Cook became visibly angry when questioned by right-wing think tank the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) about the profitability of investing in renewable energy.
Justin Danhof of the NCPPR asked Cook if Apple's environmental investments increased or decreased the company's bottom line. He also asked Cook to commit Apple to only investing in measures that were profitable.
"When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don't consider the bloody ROI [return on investment]," Cook said in response, adding that the same sentiment applied to environmental and health and safety issues.
He told Danhof that if he did not believe in climate change, he should sell his Apple shares. "If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock," he said.
Cook's comments and visible passion over the issue are one of the strongest signals yet of his commitment to reducing Apple's environmental footprint. He told shareholders that he wanted to "leave the world better than we found it".
The NCPPR has reacted angrily to Cook's put down, accusing him of denying shareholders the right to know how their money is being invested.
In an NCPPR statement released after the meeting, Danhof accused Apple of failing to consider the long-term impact of its environmental investments, arguing that Apple did not have its shareholders' best interests at heart.
"Too often investors look at short-term returns and are unaware of corporate policy decisions that may affect long-term financial prospects," he said.
"After today's meeting, investors can be certain that Apple is wasting untold amounts of shareholder money to combat so-called climate change. The only remaining question is: how much?
"The company's CEO fervently wants investors who care more about ROI than reducing CO2 emissions to no longer invest in Apple. Maybe they should take him up on that advice."
However, the NCPPR did not say if it was now planning to sell its own Apple shares.
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