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National Trust to divest from fossil fuels

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The National Trust has said it will cease any further investment in fossil fuel companies as it pivots its strategy to ensure it “continues to support its aims as a conservation charity”.

The Trust had already implemented a requirement that no investment be made directly in companies which derived more than 10 per cent of their turnover from the extraction of thermal coal or oil from oil sands and fossil fuel investments comprise around 4 per cent of its current portfolio.

The charity does not expect the move will have a negative impact on financial returns.

Hilary McGrady, director general of the National Trust said: “Returns from our investments are vital for helping us protect and care for special places across the nation.  They enable us to look after the natural environment and keep our membership fees affordable to the millions of people who are part of our organisation.”

“The impacts of climate change pose the biggest long-term threat to the land and properties we care for and tackling this is a huge challenge for the whole nation.

“We know our members and supporters are eager to see us do everything we can to protect and nurture the natural environment for future generations.  This change is part of our ongoing commitment.”

The Trust said it plans to divest all of its fossil fuel investments over the next three years and will establish a long-term goal to continue the reduction of the carbon footprint of the investment portfolio.

It already generates heat and power from renewable technology such as hydropower, wood fuel boilers and heat pumps, and plan to look for investments in green start-ups and portfolios that benefit the environment. The charity has just over £1bn invested in the stock markets and uses the returns on its investments to help look after the coastline, countryside, stately homes, castles and gardens in its care.

The National Trust is one of many organisations including charities, churches, pension funds, companies, governments and individuals who have sought to shift investment away from polluting fossil fuels to tackle climate change.

Globally, campaigners at the Divest Invest movement estimate that organisations with assets totalling £7tn have made the shift.

Many organisations have been working hard to persuade fossil fuel companies to invest in green alternatives but those firms have made “insufficient progress”, Peter Vermeulen, the charity’s chief financial officer, said.

The Trust describes itself as Europe’s largest conservation charity, and looks after 1,255km of coastline, 248,000 hectares of land, and more than 500 historic houses, castles, monuments, gardens, parks and nature reserves across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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