Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Proposal

Resolution Requesting Divestment of Investments in Fossil-Fuel Companies

Lead filer: Nebraska Peace Foundation
Contact: Loyal Park, President, Nebraska Peace Foundation
lp94238@windstream.net • 402-489-6662

WHEREAS: Climate scientists assert with near unanimity that climate changes caused primarily by greenhouse gas emissions pose an existential threat to civilization. The ubiquitous burning of fossil fuels and their infrastructures must now be radically curtailed within a few short years to prevent the worst of possible consequences of climate changes.

AND WHEREAS: Many investors and advisers warn of large future losses by companies in the fossil fuel industry. The risks of stranded fossil-fuel assets, regulatory action, carbon pricing, litigation, and investor flight have many corporate executives rethinking the value of fossil fuel investments. Recently, Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs urged institutional investors to exercise their fiduciary responsibility to reduce the risk of losses via fossil fuel divestment.

AND WHEREAS: BH and subsidiaries hold considerable investments in fossil-fuel companies, including Phillips 66 and Suncor Energy.

BE IT RESOLVED: Shareholders require that BH divest its holdings in companies involved in the extracting, processing, and/or burning of fossil fuels within 12 years to protect its investment portfolio from financial losses.

SUPPORTING STATEMENT:

Originating on college campuses in 2011, the movement to divest from fossil fuels has become the fastest growing divestment movement in history. By September 2016, 595 institutions—including pension funds, foundations, and university endowments—and tens of thousands of individuals have divested $3.4 trillion in assets worldwide from fossil fuels.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a fortune that originated from the company that became ExxonMobil, began divesting fossil fuels in 2014. By the end of 2015, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had followed suit and sold all its holdings in ExxonMobil and BP. In 2015 as well, the London-based Guardian Media Group announced it would sell all the fossil fuel assets in its investment fund. GMG chair Neil Berkett stated that the decision was based on both financial and ethical grounds as fossil fuel assets had performed relatively poorly in recent years and were threatened by future climate change action: “This means we can adopt socially responsible investment criteria without putting at risk [GMG’s] core purpose... to generate long-term returns.”

Major corporations are also beginning to divest. In 2015, insurance giant AXA announced plans to sell €500 million of coal assets. AXA CEO Henri de Castries: “It is our responsibility, as a long-term investor, to consider carbon as a risk and to accompany the global energy transition...Divesting from coal contributes both to de-risking our investment portfolios and to building better alignment with AXA’s corporate responsibility strategy to build a stronger, safer and more sustainable society.”

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