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Rebecca Wayman

National Trust: 'We are no longer investing in fossil fuels'

The National Trust is set to sell off the shares it holds in fossil fuel companies.

Currently, four per cent of its £1bn stock market investment is in such firms, while the Trust said it wanted to invest in green startups and portfolios that are not harmful to nature and the environment.

The National Trust - the biggest conservation charity in Europe - has set a three-year timescale for the change, but most shares would be sold within one year.

Until now, the Trust had been prepared to invest in firms that derived less than 10 per cent of its turnover from the extraction of thermal coal or the production of oil from tar sands.

That same threshold was also adopted by the Church of England in 2015. In 2018, however, the Church’s General Synod voted to withdraw investment from companies that do not meet the terms of the Paris climate agreement by 2023.

The Trust’s chief financial officer, Peter Vermeulen, said: “Over the years, we’ve gradually evolved our investment strategy to reduce our carbon footprint.

“Many organisations have been working hard to persuade fossil fuel companies to invest in green alternatives. 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.”

The Trust said it analysed the carbon footprint of its investment portfolio biannually.

It is responsible for the maintenance of 248,000 hectares of land, 780 miles of coastline and more than 500 historic buildings and parks across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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