Berkshire Hathaway GHG 2013
|Company||Berkshire Hathaway Inc.|
|Filer||Newground Social Investment|
|Subject(s)||Climate Change; Greenhouse Gas Emissions|
|Resolved Clause Summary||Greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals|
RESOLVED: That Berkshire Hathaway establish reasonable, quantitative goals for reduction of greenhouse gas and other air emissions at its energy-generating holdings; and that Berkshire publish a report to shareholders by September 30, 2013 (at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information) on how it will achieve these goals – including plans to retrofit or retire existing coalburning plants at Berkshire-held companies.
Berkshire Hathaway owns MidAmerican Energy Holdings, whose subsidiaries generate roughly 72.7% of their electricity by burning coal.
Electricity generation accounts for more carbon dioxide ("CO2") emissions than any other sector – more than even transportation or industry. US fossil fuel-powered plants (like MidAmerican's) account for nearly 40% of domestic and 10% of global CO2 pollution.
Independent economists and scientists concur that the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the near-term is far lower than the cost of mitigating greenhouse gas-caused damage over the long-haul.
Therefore, Berkshire shareholders are best served by taking proactive steps in regard to greenhouse gas emissions and impending regulation. This is important to independent shareowners. At the 2011 annual meeting, 26.8% of shareholder votes (that were not Berkshire boardmembers or top executives) ignored the Board’s recommendation and instead voted FOR this same request for reasonable goals and thoughtful planning.
Some companies act as if it is beneficial to reap profits from coal-burning electricity plants
while pushing the costs of pollution and the harm to public health onto society at large (“externalizing
the costs"). But with Berkshire, the prospect of externalizing costs of its coal-burning subsidiaries risks
the resultant damages being “internalized” onto itself – either by harming employees at the polluting
plants, or through liability claims paid out by Berkshire insurance subsidiaries.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) recently took steps under the Clean Air Act to
require new or modified electricity-generating power plants to limit greenhouse gas emissions. They
issued two significant new rules, which together set stringent limits on an array of harmful emissions
from power-generating plants.
When both rules are fully in effect, Bernstein Research estimates that 15% of coal-fired
power plants will be forced to close – unable to meet new safety standards – and others will require
substantial investment just to remain viable.
Numerous peers to Berkshire's MidAmerican – including Calpine Corporation, Progress Energy,
and Xcel Energy – have already established plans to replace their coal-fired power plants.
Other peers – including American Electric Power, Consolidated Edison, Duke Energy, Entergy,
Exelon, and National Grid – have already set absolute targets for reducing greenhouse gas
Still other peers – such as CMS Energy, NiSource, Pinnacle West, and PSEG Power – have
already set greenhouse gas intensity targets.
These forward-looking companies recognize that natural gas, efficiency, and renewable
energy are far more profitable than retrofitting obsolete, highly polluting, coal-fired plants.
Berkshire Hathaway should not be a laggard in ways that create risk to shareholder value.
Therefore, please vote FOR this reasonable, forward-looking proposal.