The UK’s National Trust has announced its decision to divest its stakes across all fossil fuel companies by 2022.

The charity expects to complete most of the sales in the first 12 months itself and that the divestment will not have a negative effect on its financial returns.

In the past, National Trust was adhering to a policy under which no direct investments are made in companies which had more than 10% of their turnover from the production of thermal coal or oil from oil sands.

Fossil fuel investments make up 4% of the UK charity’s current portfolio, which represents £45m, reported Reuters.

The National Trust, which is considered to be the largest conservation charity in Europe, monitors 1,255km of coastline, and 248,000ha of land among others.

Why National Trust wants to dissociate from fossil fuel investments

National Trust director general Hilary McGrady 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.”

Among the new measures the charity wants to implement is to set up a long-term goal to continue reducing the carbon footprint of its investment portfolio. Another is its plan to increase engagement with firms invested in, to encourage them in making material improvements in their environmental performance.

The Trust also intends to actively look out for opportunities to support green start-up businesses.

National Trust chief financial officer Peter Vermeulen said: “The Trust has just over a billion pounds invested on the stock market, the returns from which are an important source of income.  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.”