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Berkshire Hathaway

Officially: Berkshire Hathaway



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Legendary investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, 92, is known for his folksy charm, down-to-earth lifestyle, and being a close friend of Bill Gates, so it comes as a surprise to many that his company—one many associate with real estate—is actually a hardcore polluter. 

Before we get into just how alarming Berkshire Hathaway’s environmental track record is, let’s first note that it wholly owns a bunch of popular brands including Dairy Queen, Duracell, See's Candies, Benjamin Moore, GEICO, and Fruit of the Loom. So, unfortunately, every time you spend money with one of those brands, you’re supporting a parent company that does a lot of environmental harm. 

As the San Diego Union Tribune reported, Berkshire Hathaway’s energy division is made up of 11 coal-fired power plants, plus another 13 in which the company has a partial stake. Berkshire Hathaway is a top 100 greenhouse gas polluter in the U.S. and experts point out that its emission reduction goals are nowhere near those being set by other leading companies. 

Berkshire Hathaway got an F from corporate accountability watchdog As You Sow on its environmental disclosures, goals, and performance. The company’s most recent sustainability report was a grand total of three pages long (slow clap) and appeared not to use any major environmental reporting frameworks. 

Climate policy watchdog Influence Map gave the company its lowest rating for its lack of transparency and backwards climate messaging. In 2021, Buffett's business partner Charlie Munger publicly questioned the science of climate change, saying to a reporter, "I don't think we think we know the answer to all these questions about global warming” and that “the people that ask the questions think they know the answers.” (Scientists widely agree that climate change is being caused primarily by humans.) Buffett said in 2014 that he didn’t think extreme weather events were increasing. (He was wrong.) 

As some of the world’s most powerful investors whose decisions move markets, it’s shocking that Buffett and Munger were ever out there Merchants-of-Doubting it on climate change, let alone Munger having done so just last year

Unfortunately, it’s behavior that fits into a larger corporate picture. In the 2022 election cycle, Berkshire Hathaway’s political action committee gave $284,000 to politicians with the worst environmental track records in Congress, a figure 131 percent above the average amount given to the same group by other corporate PACs in the UNFK database. 

Berkshire Hathaway tied for last place on As You Sow’s Racial Justice Scorecard, which, among other things, looks at the impact a company’s land use and industrial planning have on historically marginalized communities. A railway project being planned by one of Berkshire Hathaway’s subsidiaries, BNSF, for example, was described by several primarily Latinx communities in Southern California as one that “exemplifies environmental racism.” (Those communities sued and successfully prevented the project from moving forward.) 

In short, Berkshire Hathaway’s environmental performance isn’t just atrocious. It’s utterly FKed. If such an influential company were to completely ditch fossil fuels, it could have a transformative effect on markets worldwide and help to kickstart the post-carbon economy. 

We doubt that Buffett and Munger have it in them, though, particularly given that in August this year, Berkshire Hathaway bought eleven billion dollars worth of stock in Occidental Petroleum, another top 100 greenhouse gas emitter. Buffet’s legacy has already been damaged by such investments as well as his hostile attitude toward climate-alarmed investors. We can only hope that some combination of public pressure, shareholder resolutions, and common sense will prevail in the end.

Factors affecting Berkshire Hathaway’s UNFK score

  • Has a relationship with the US Chamber of Commerce and/or its affiliates: yes
  • Has a relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC): not likely
  • InfluenceMap Grade: F
  • Carbon Disclosure Project: Climate Change Grade: F
  • Carbon Disclosure Project: Water Grade: F
  • Carbon Disclosure Project: Forests Grade: F
  • As You Sow Racial Justice Score (0-100): -23
  • As You Sow Road to Net Zero Score (0-18): 0
  • Is a PERI Top 100 Greenhouse Polluter: yes
  • Banking Score (0-100): 0

Berkshire Hathaway’s contributions last election cycle: 2022

(source: Open Secrets)

Berkshire Hathaway’s Total PAC Contributions to Climate FKers:


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Berkshire Hathaway’s Total Individual Contributions to Climate FKers:


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Total amount Berkshire Hathaway contributed to Climate FKers (PAC + Individual Contributions)


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Berkshire Hathaway’s PAC and employees contributed funds to the campaigns of 101 Climate FKers

Liz’s Portrait
Liz Cheney

Republican Representative from Wyoming

They gave Liz $21,850

Cathy’s Portrait
Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Republican Representative from Washington

They gave Cathy $17,000

Jackie’s Portrait
Jackie Walorski

Republican Representative from Indiana

They gave Jackie $14,850

How Berkshire Hathaway Can Raise Its Score

  • Create more robust and transparent environmental reporting
  • Set science based, Paris Agreement-aligned emissions reduction goals
  • Register emissions reduction goals with SBTi
  • Disclose carbon emissions and other data to CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project)
  • Stop contributions to congresspeople with lifetime LCV scores of 20 and below
  • Cut ties with the Chamber of Commerce (and affiliates)
  • Include environmental justice as part of company’s overall racial justice stance
  • Ensure the company’s business operations are environmentally just