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Patagonia’s Billionaire To Give Away Millions His Company Saved From Trump’s Tax Cuts To Save The Planet

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Yvon Chouinard, billionaire founder of outdoor apparel firm Patagonia, has traditionally shied away from politics. But things have changed for the rock-climbing, fly-fishing outdoorsman since Donald Trump moved into the Oval Office.

On Wednesday, Patagonia announced it has an additional $10 million in profits on its books for 2018 as a result of Trump’s “irresponsible tax cut” last year, which lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.

Instead of investing the additional dollars back into its business, Patagonia said it would give $10 million to grassroot groups fighting climate change, including organizations that work in regenerative organic agriculture to help reverse global warming.

“Our government continues to ignore the seriousness and causes of the climate crisis,” Chouniard said in a statement. “It’s pure evil.”

Chouinard laid out his prescription for the U.S: “We need an agriculture system that supports small family farms and ranches, not one that rewards chemical companies intent on destroying our planet and poisoning our food. And we need to protect our public lands and waters because they are all we have left.”

Patagonia, citing news reports, claims the oil and gas industry have been the biggest benefactors of the corporate tax cut, with billions added to its bottom line.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Global Change Research Program released its fourth National Climate Assessment on November 23, which pointed to the already “frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events” as harbingers of an even more tumultuous future.

“The timing of this tax cut couldn’t have been worse,” Patagonia’s statement asserts.

This bold stance comes one year after Chouinard first declared his opposition to Trump’s decision to reduce the size of Bear Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, two Utah land areas that became federally protected under the Obama and Clinton administrations, respectively.

In response, Chouinard blacked out Patagonia’s homepage online and replaced it with a simple message: “The President Stole Your Land.”

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The billionaire founder—Forbes estimates his net worth at $1.5 billion—then went on CNN to announce his plans to take Trump to court.

“I’m going to sue him,” he said at the time. “It seems the only thing this administration understands is lawsuits.” The Trump administration tried to get the case moved to Utah courts, but a judge ruled in September that the case will have to be heard in a federal court in the nation’s capital. The case is still ongoing.

Taking a vocal and public stand against Trump’s policies has not hurt Patagonia’s business. In fact, it’s likely that it has only helped. “Any time that we do something good for the environment, we make more money,” Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario told students at UC Berkeley in April 2017.

But the company mission for environmental conservation and fighting climate change has been around long before Trump. Patagonia has been funding environmental nonprofits since 1985, giving a total of $100 million to such causes. Chouinard also in 2002 cofounded 1% for the Planet, a pledge for businesses to donate 1% of sales to sustainability-oriented nonprofits. To date, the pledge has brought $175 million to environmental and conservation efforts.

Chouinard, now 80 years old, is no longer a part of day-to-day operations for Patagonia, but he shows no signs of slowing down in the great outdoors. Asked on his whereabouts over the past summer, a representative told Forbes, “He is off the grid, taking a well-deserved fishing break.”

-Angel Au-Yeung; Forbes Staff

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Tesla Vehicles Could Soon Become Completely Autonomous As Self-Driving Tech ‘Very Close’, Elon Musk Says

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Tesla vehicles could soon be completely autonomous as CEO Elon Musk said the electric vehicle firm is “very close” to achieving level 5 autonomous driving technology, during a virtual appearance at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai.

KEY FACTS

  • “I’m extremely confident that level 5 or essentially complete autonomy will happen and I think will happen very quickly,” Musk said.
  • He added that he is confident “basic functionality” for level 5 complete autonomy will be achieved this year.
  • The technology will allow vehicles to drive on roads without driver input.
  • Tesla, the world’s highest-valued carmaker after overtaking Toyota last week, already operates an Autopilot system that uses external cameras, radars and sensors, but it is driver assisted and does not make the vehicle autonomous.

KEY BACKGROUND

Tech firms, including Uber and Alphabet-owned Waymo, have pumped billions into developing self-driving cars, a futuristic idea that many had predicted would be ready by this year. But limitations around AI have stalled development of the technology. Last month, Waymo and Volvo announced they were teaming up to develop driverless cars for ride-hailing use.

TANGENT

In February, the National Transportation Safety Board found Tesla’s autopilot driver assistance was likely to blame for a fatal 2018 crash in California, leading to the board calling for more regulation of the technology, and for the company to better educate drivers on its limitations.

ADDITIONAL INFO

The road to completely autonomous driving has five levels: Level 0 describes no automation i.e. everyday cars. Level 1 represents features such as adaptive cruise control, while level 2 describes partial automation features that control speed and steering, such as those seen in Tesla vehicles. Level 3 and 4 represent limited driverless capabilities. Level 5 is the point at which a driverless vehicle can navigate all road conditions without human input, according to True Car.

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Elon Musk, Kim Kardashian Endorse Kanye West Running For President

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After years of hints, Kanye West formally announced he is running for president this year in a challenge to Trump, who he once supported, and Democratic rival Joe Biden, winning support from his friend and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

KEY FACTS

  • Rounding off his Fourth of July, West tweeted on Saturday night: “We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States! #2020VISION.”
  • Musk tweeted in response: “You have my full support!”
  • Wife Kim Kardashian also publicly pledged her support, retweeting West’s statement and adding a U.S. flag emoji.
  • West’s announcement follows years of hints that he would run for office this year which he later postponed to 2024, after publicly declaring at a Fast Company event in 2019: “When I run for president in 2024…We would create so many jobs! I’m not going to run, I’m going to walk.”
  • But the rapper, who recently inked a 10-year deal with Gap through his Yeezy brand, is reportedly yet to file any paperwork to get on state election ballots, while he has missed the deadline for states including Texas, New York, and Indiana.
  • It is not known how serious West’s intentions are this time around, however, he still has time to file as an independent candidate across most states, according to Ballotpedia.
  • West’s declaration was met with skepticism on social media, while some commentators pointed out that it could work out in Trump’s favour.

KEY BACKGROUND

West’s declaration suggests the rapper is looking to cement political ambitions he has expressed throughout Trump’s presidency. West previously forged alliances with Trump, and was pictured in the Oval Office in 2018 wearing a signature Trump ‘Make America Great Again’ cap. He once called the president his “brother” and previously hit back at criticism towards his support for Trump, likening the backlash to racial discrimination. Although he says he didn’t vote in 2016, West later said he “would have voted for Trump”, and earlier this year doubled down, suggesting he would vote for him in November. But that could very well change given Saturday’s announcement.

American rapper and producer Kanye West embraces real estate developer and US President Donald Trump in the White House’s Oval Office, Washington DC, October 11, 2018. West wears a red baseball cap that reads ‘Make America Great Again,’ Trump’s campaign slogan. (Photo by Ron Sachs/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images)

TANGENT

West and Musk were pictured together on July 1st, with West tweeting: “When you go to your boys [sic] house and you’re both wearing orange.”

Isabel Togoh, Forbes Staff, Business

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Quote Of The Day

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We have grown past the stage of fairy-tale. As women, we have one common front and that is to succeed. We have to take the bull by the horn and make the change happen by ourselves.

– Folorunso Alakija, Billionaire Businesswoman

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