Should Buffett Sell His Fossil Fuel Stocks?

The Nebraska Peace Foundation, an advocacy organization that strives for peace, increased civil rights, and a focus on environmental issues, decided to submit a formal proposal to Mr. Warren Buffett himself in regards to his companies that are involved in fossil fuels.

The letter itself proposes that Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate owned by Buffett, sellsĀ it’s stakes in companies that are involved in fossil fuels over a period of 12 years. It is a formal proposal to be considered on next year’s shareholder meeting; May 6, 2017.

The Nebraska Peace Foundation has said that it will not cover any of the businesses that Berkshire owns entirely, which eliminates Lubrizol (a chemical company) and quite a few utilities. Rather, it focuses on large stakes, such as Berkshire’s $7 billion stake in Phillips 66.

I think there is a very strong possibility that Buffett gets on board with this, and he’ll honestly need to since he holds 1/3 of Berkshire’s voting power. The company did recently dump its entire stake in Canada’s Suncor Energy Inc., another investment that would have been targeted in the Nebraska Peace Foundation’s proposal, making me wonder if he was already heading in this direction.

In fact, fossil fuel divestment is a movement on the rise. Essentially, this is the removal of investment assets (like stocks or bonds) from companies that are involved in harvesting fossil fuels. All of this is an attempt to reduce climate change, by going directly to some of the causes.

“He’s a huge philanthropist, he’s an international icon, and he’s extraordinarily smart. That puts him in an ideal position to make a statement for the entire world about addressing the perils of climate change,” Tim Rinne, coordinator for affiliated company Nebraskans for Peace commented. He went on to say that the Suncor sale simply reinforces faith that Buffett will do the right thing.

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