By ED DAVEY
LONDON (AP) — The conservation charity founded by Prince William, second in line to the British throne and who launched the Earthshot Prize, keeps its investments in a bank that is one of the world’s biggest backers of fossil fuels, The Associated Press has learned.
The Royal Foundation also places more than half of its investments in a fund advertised as green that owns shares in large food companies that buy palm oil from companies linked to deforestation.
“The earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice,” the prince, a well-known environmentalist, is quoted saying on the websites of the Earthshot Prize and Royal Foundation.
Yet in 2021, the charity kept more than 1.1 million pounds ($1.3 million) with JPMorgan Chase, according to the most recent filings, and still invests with the corporation today. The foundation also held 1.7 million pounds ($2 million) in a fund run by British firm Cazenove Capital Management, according to the 2021 filing. As with JPMorgan, it still keeps funds with Cazenove, which in May had securities linked to deforestation through their use of palm oil. The foundation invested similar amounts in both funds in 2020, its older filings show. As of December 2021, the charity also held more than 10 million pounds ($12.1 million) in cash.
The investments, which the Royal Foundation didn’t dispute when contacted by the AP, come as top scientists repeatedly warn that the world must shift away from fossil fuels to sharply reduce emissions and avoid more and increasingly intense extreme weather events.
Financial experts say investments like those of the foundation can be blind spots for charities and philanthropies. As climate change is an increasing area of attention for foundations and others, organizations have sometimes struggled to recognize where their own investments lie and align them with more environmentally friendly choices, despite growing numbers of ways to steer clear of funds linked to fossil fuels.
Like the Royal Foundation, in recent years other foundations, including high profile British charities like the National Trust and Wellcome Trust, also have faced criticism for investments with strong connections to fossil fuels or environmentally harmful practices. Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates announced that he divested his foundation’s direct oil and gas holdings in 2019.