The charity founded by the Duke of Cambridge, which launched the Earthshot prize, is keeping its investments in a bank which is one of the world’s largest fossil fuel funders, according to a survey.
The Royal Foundation, the charity set up by the Cambridges, also places more than half of its investments in a fund – advertised as Green – which holds shares in major food companies. Some of these companies buy palm oil from companies linked to deforestation, according to the Associated Press (AP) investigation.
Prince William, a keen conservationist, is quoted on the Earthshot Prize and Royal Foundation websites as saying: “Earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice.”
Yet in 2021 the charity has kept more than £1.1million with JP Morgan Chase, according to the most recent documents, and is still investing with the company, AP reported. The foundation also held £1.7million in a fund managed by British firm Cazenove Capital, according to the 2021 filing, the agency said.
As with JP Morgan, he still keeps funds with Cazenove, which in May held securities allegedly linked to deforestation through the use of palm oil. The foundation invested similar amounts in the two funds in 2020, according to its old documents. As of December 2021, the charity was also holding over £10million in cash, it was reported.
The investments, which are unchallenged by the foundation, come as scientists repeatedly warn that the world must ditch fossil fuels to reduce emissions and avoid increasingly intense extreme weather events.
Contacted by the Guardian, a Kensington Palace spokesman said: ‘The Royal Foundation has followed the Church of England’s guidelines on ethical investing since 2015, and goes beyond these to prohibit investments in fossil fuel companies. We take our investment policies very seriously and review them regularly.
The foundation pointed out that Cazenove was instructed to operate within its strict investment policy which follows the C of E’s investment guidelines, as well as its exclusions on fossil fuel companies.
A small management fee is paid on its investment to JP Morgan Asset Management and Cazenove Charity Responsible Multi-Asset Fund. Trustees have overall responsibility for the charity and its work, the foundation said.
Compared to other charities, the Royal Foundation’s investments are said to be small, with little impact on the climate crisis. But they are not in line with the foundation’s ethos, which cites conservation and mental health as key focus points, or William’s public statements, AP reported.
The Earthshot Prize, a “global search for solutions to save our planet”, awards grants of up to £1million each year to projects facing environmental challenges. In July, the Royal Foundation announced that the prize had become an independent charity and that William would be its chairman.
JP Morgan Asset Management declined to comment on questions about charities investing in its products despite its record of fossil fuel funding, AP said.
Bloomberg data shows JP Morgan underwrote more fossil fuel industry bonds and loans and collected higher fees than competitors in the five years to 2021, it said. .
The environmental NGO Rainforest Action Network looked at direct loans and equity ownership as well as bonds and estimated that between 2016 and 2021, JP Morgan’s banking arm funded fossil fuel companies with $382 billion ($320 billion pounds). That was more than any other bank, AP reported.
While the Cazenove fund is marketed as “sustainable,” as of May 31, the fund held nearly $6 million in Nestlé shares and $8.1 million worth of shares in Reckitt Benckiser, the data shows. from Morningstar Direct, AP reported. Nestlé and Reckitt Benckiser have faced claims over palm oil supplies from Papua New Guinea, the NGO said.
Kate Rogers, head of sustainability at Cazenove Capital, told AP the company has engaged with Nestlé and Reckitt and seen progress on deforestation.