Billionaire Warren Buffett and shareholders with Berkshire Hathaway overwhelmingly rejected a resolution Saturday asking the holding company to write reports on the risks so-called man-made global warming causes to insurance companies.
The rejection came despite a strong campaign push on behalf of the resolution from NASA climate scientist James Hansen, Illinois State University professor and insurance expert Jim Jones, and activists from environmentalist group Nebraskans for Peace.
Tens of thousands of environmentalists associated with Nebraskans for Peace, as well as many others, spent their Saturday listening to the hours-long annual meeting in Omaha, which was composed mostly of discussions between Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger over business minutia.
Buffett eventually got down to brass tacks on the climate change report, telling activists at the meeting he is standing firm on his decision to nix the climate change report resolution. He said he believes global warming is an important issue but ultimately doesn’t think it poses a threat to Berkshire’s insurance businesses.
Buffett also defended NV Energy, an energy group he founded that won a battle over Elon Musk’s SolarCity following Nevada’s decision to introduce sharp cutbacks to its net metering program in December.
If the billionaire’s decision to nix the climate resolution was a poke in the collective eye of all climate justice warriors, then surely remarks defending earlier decision to reduce solar panel subsidies will be seen as an all out assault on the environment.
Net metering policies force utility companies in Nevada, which Berkshire Hathaway owns, to purchase electricity produced by rooftop solar panels at triple retail rates, which makes it difficult for Nevada’s utility company to the cover the costs of a fixed electrical grid.
Buffett, for his part, said at the annual meeting that people with rooftop solar power systems were allowed to sell power to the utility at exaggerated rates, which, he said, had the effect of forcing other ratepayers to subsidize the niche group of people leasing solar panels.
In a similar move, Berkshire Hathaway-owned PacifiCorp, an Oregon electrical utility company, managed to notch out a victory when it successfully lobbied to change the state’s net metering policies. The company is now able to ratchet down the amount of green electricity it is required to purchase from rooftop solar companies.
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