National Trust feeling the pressure to ditch Barclays over fossil fuel funding

The National Trust is under pressure to ditch Barclay’s over fossil fuel funding from its largest donor’s grandson.

Dominic Acland said his environmentalist grandfather, who donated the family’s 7,000-hectare (17,000-acre) estates in Devon and Somerset to the charity in 1944, would be “horrified that the National Trust is banking with Barclays”, according to the Financial Times.

Acland said he had written to the organisation’s financial director three times in the past year to urge the charity to take the same approach to banking.

In his latest letter in August, he wrote that there was “growing evidence” that the organisation’s stance of engaging with Barclays to push for change to its fossil fuel lending policies was “not working.”

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The National Trust’s reply to Acland, which was seen by the Financial Times, said there was a lack of banks big enough to cater to its needs while also meeting high climate standards.

The charity added it was “monitoring this situation in parallel with our strategy of engagement [with Barclays] and are palpably aware of the need to keep this stance under review.”

A Barclays spokesperson said the bank believes it can “make the greatest difference as a bank by working with customers and clients as they transition to a low-carbon business model”. These customers include “many oil and gas companies that are critical to the transition and have committed significant resources and expertise to renewable energy”.

The spokesperson added: “Where companies are unwilling to reduce their emissions consistent with internationally accepted pathways, they may find it difficult to access financing, including from Barclays,” noting that the bank has committed to become net zero by 2050.

The National Trust told the Guardian however that it works with “partners and suppliers who are committed to reducing their climate impact” as part of its sustainability goals, which includes a commitment for the charity to become carbon net zero by 2030.

“We are clear that banks, including Barclays, need to do much more to address the financing of the fossil fuel industry,” it said, adding: “As a big charity, we know we can help influence change within the banking sector.”

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