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Will Bill Gates vote against his friend Warren Buffett on Climate?

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Summary

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust is the largest foundation in the U.S. and has a 3 percent stake in Berkshire Hathaway. In an open letter, Harvard Prof. Bob Eccles calls on Bill Gates to live up to his own climate-commitments and vote in favor of the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder proposal calling for an annual climate-risk assessment. Will Bill Gates persuade his friend Warren Buffett to change his mind or vote against him?

“As an employee or shareholder, you can push your company to do its part.” Bill Gates

What is it about

Important institutional shareholders are calling on companies to publish annual assessments on climate risks. The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), Federated Hermes, and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) have done so at Berkshire Hathaway. The board of the company has unanimously recommended that shareholders vote against this proposal. Now, Harvard Prof. and long-time sustainable business pioneer Robert Eccles has published this open letter in the American magazine Forbes calling on Bill Gates to vote with his 3 percent stake for this proposal.

Why is it important

First, because it puts Bill Gates on the spot: will he apply his own recommendations made in his book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need.”? Second, more importantly, because Berkshire Hathaway is one of the top 100 companies in the world in terms of its greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). And, third, because many will do as Warren Buffett does. Will he accept the economic argument that it is in his own long-term interest to better understand climate-related risks to the 63 holding companies of Berkshire Hathaway?

The Globalance View

It is important to see influential asset owners assert their positions with their holding companies. Resolutions to ask for annual risk-assessments are moderate. Bob Eccles open letter links together the context as well as economic argument in a crafty way. It is good that prominent shareholders such as Bill Gates are called out to act as they speak.

Disclosure: Globalance does not invest in Berkshire Hathaway nor any of its holding companies.

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