Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is for many people the first source to consult when it comes to the development of an investing philosophy. The billionaire investor has has never shied away from sharing his views with the public, either — and not only when it comes to stock market value. Issues of politics, social policy, ethics and simply making money the right way are themes that Buffett has returned to many times.
But one place where Buffett has always drawn the line is making clear his personal views have no place in how he runs Berkshire Hathaway for shareholders. He may be for more taxes on the super-rich, but that doesn't mean he is against a tax break that helps a Berkshire business. He isn't going to tell a company he owns how to respond to calls for more corporate support for gun control, an issue that came up at least year's Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting.
"I don't believe in imposing my political opinions on the activities of our businesses," Buffett said.
On one issue of rising social and investing importance, Buffett is still making many trade-offs: climate change.
Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Buffett's large utility conglomerate, owns western utility PacifiCorp, which has a sizable fleet of coal power plants. Berkshire's Burlington Northern railroad ships a lot of coal, too. But the Berkshire utility company also is one of the biggest wind energy producers in the U.S. through its MidAmerican Energy utility affiliate based in Iowa, while its NV Energy in Nevada is increasing its renewable generation from 24 percent to a percentage in the high 40s by 2023, mostly using geothermal and solar power.
Berkshire's largest business of all is insurance, which in recent years has seen massive claims related to natural disasters.