National Trust to divest from all fossil-fuel companies

Over the next three years it plans to withdraw the £45m it has invested in such firms and invest instead in green start-ups and environmentally friendly portfolios

The National Trust's Knole country house in Kent (Photograph: NT Images/Jo Hatcher)
The National Trust's Knole country house in Kent (Photograph: NT Images/Jo Hatcher)

The National Trust has said it will divest from all fossil-fuel companies across its £1bn investment portfolio.

The conservation charity said today that it planned to withdraw all of the approximately £45m it has invested in fossil-fuel companies over the next three years, although the majority of the divestment should be achieved over the next 12 months.

The trust has previously not invested in any company that derives more than 10 per cent of its turnover from the extraction of thermal coal or oil from oil sands.

It will now no longer invest in companies with "proved or probable oil, gas or thermal coal reserves, regardless of size".

The charity said it wanted instead to invest in green start-ups and portfolios that benefit nature and the environment.

It said it did not expect the move would have a negative effect on its investment income, which totalled £29.2m in the year to the end of March 2018.

The trust added that it would also increase its engagement with companies in which it invested to encourage them to make improvements in their environmental performance.

Peter Vermeulen, chief financial officer of the National Trust, said the charity had been evolving its investment strategy to reduce its carbon footprint.

"Many organisations have been working hard to persuade fossil-fuel companies to invest in green alternatives," he said.

"These companies have made insufficient progress and now we have decided to divest from fossil-fuel companies.

"We would not expect this divestment to have a negative effect on financial returns, and we know that our members and supporters are eager for us to play our part in tackling climate change through everything we do."

Vermeulen said the charity also planned to become more energy efficient and phase out single-use plastics from its shops and substantially reduce it in its cafés by 2022.

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