NCVO has launched a campaign encouraging charities to ‘consider moving investments away from businesses involved in the extraction, production, transportation, refining and marketing of fossil fuels. Examples of these are coal, tar sands, oil and gas.’

NCVO will be hosting a series of events over the Autumn to explore the ways in which charities can tackle climate change and discuss the actions which can be taken to divest from fossil fuels.

Bates Wells welcomes the launch of this campaign and the leadership being shown by NCVO and supportive charities, given the urgency of the Paris Agreement goal to keep temperatures within 1.5°C of pre-industrial levels.

Our lawyers acted for the trustees of the Ashden Trust and the Mark Leonard Trust in the leading charity investment case of Butler-Sloss v the Charity Commission. The case clarified that charities are entitled to exclude investments that have the potential to conflict with their charitable objects, even if that could negatively impact financial returns, where trustees are of the view that such an approach is in the best interests of the charitable objects.

As part of the campaign, NCVO has published useful guidance, which references the Butler-Sloss ruling.

Luke Fletcher, a partner in Bates Wells’ charity team who acted on the Butler-Sloss case, said

“This is a brilliant campaign from NCVO and it is wonderful to see charities exercising leadership. Thankfully, the Butler-Sloss ruling provides a strong foundation for charities who want to align their investments with the Paris Agreement. The #FuellingPositiveChange campaign is also hugely timely, now that oil and gas majors are dropping previous climate targets and increasingly betting against achievement of the Paris Agreement goals.”