Buffett Watch

Warren Buffett's Company Forcing Jet-Setters to Fly 'Green'

If you want to fly with Warren Buffett's private-jet company in Europe, you're going to have to fly 'green.'

NetJets Europe, a Berskhire Hathaway subsidiary, has announced that as of October 1, "All new clients and all existing customers who renew their contracts will purchase carbon credits that neutralise all the carbon emissions associated with their aircraft usage."  It's part of an effort to make NetJets Europe "100% carbon neutral by 2012."

The International Herald Tribune reports that the carbon-offset annual surcharge will cost customers an extra four-thousand Euros, about $5500.   It quotes the chairman of the company, Mark Booth, as saying, "People want to know we are doing the right thing and every month our customers will be reminded of that in their management fee."  Booth tells The Guardian he doesn't think sales will be hurt.  Instead, he says, the move adds "a lot of lustre to our brand."

The Herald Tribune quotes Dan Esty, the director of the Center of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale and an advisor to NetJets Europe, as saying the money will go to United Nations programs designed to reduce carbon emissions. "The key to progress is getting all that private capital from wealthy clients of companies like NetJets flowing into projects in fast-growing places including Asia to reduce rapidly rising levels of pollution."

NetJet Europe's website certainly talks the talk, with multiple pages describing the company's "climate initiative."

Will NetJets in the U.S. follow the European lead?  I'll be asking them.  There is a news release on the U.S. site annoucning a "comprehensive climate initiative" but no mention of collecting from the customers to pay for offsets.

Questions?  Comments?  Email me at buffettwatch@cnbc.com