Natwest – Say No To Nuclear Weapons – Bella Caledonia
By Linda Pearson, activist with Don’t count on the bomb in Scotland
This week, more than 40 organizations across Scotland and beyond called on one of Scotland’s largest financial institutions, NatWest Group, to stop funding companies that make nuclear weapons. Church of Scotland, Unison Scotland, Medact and CND are among the names that have signed up for a letter to NatWest Group CEO, Alison Rose.
The letter draws attention to the devastating humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons and urges the NatWest Group to strengthen its defense sector policy, to recognize that nuclear weapons are now prohibited under the Prohibition of Weapons Treaty nuclear. Current policy only partially restricted investing in companies that undertake nuclear weapons work, while it unconditionally prohibits investing in companies that produce other prohibited weapons, such as landmines and cluster munitions.
Search by PAX shows that NatWest has £ 1.6 billion in outstanding loans to 11 nuclear weapons producers. Among them are large multinational armaments companies, BAE Systems, General Dynamics and Leonardo.
NatWest Group is headquartered in Edinburgh and was known as the Royal Bank of Scotland Group until July 2020. Its subsidiaries include Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), NatWest and Ulster Bank.
The bank is a founding signatory the United Nations Principles for a Responsible Banking (UNPRB), which aim to provide the framework for a sustainable banking system. The UNPRB signature document states: “We believe that it is only in an inclusive society based on human dignity, equality and the sustainable use of natural resources that our clients and clients and, their turn, our businesses can thrive ”.
Such a society cannot be born as long as nuclear weapons exist.
Nuclear weapons do not serve any legitimate purpose. Nuclear weapons are designed to destroy cities and used by a minority of states to project power over others under the threat of mass murder.
This doctrine is based on nuclear colonialism, environmental destruction and human suffering. Uranium mining contaminated indigenous lands and poisoned precious water resources. Nuclear trial destroyed entire islands and scattered harmful radioactive particles around the world.
These activities have left a legacy of serious illnesses, such as cancer and leukemia, among those exposed to ionizing radiation. Indigenous peoples have suffered disproportionate damage, while women are more susceptible than men to the health effects of radiation exposure, as recognized in the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty.
If nuclear weapons were ever used in war, it is unlikely that anyone in society who would “prosper” in society would face the consequences. The detonation of a single nuclear weapon could destroy a city the size of Glasgow. Nuclear war change the global climate and impact food production, putting millions of people at risk of starvation.
As the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons States, the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons “cannot be adequately addressed, transcend national borders, pose serious implications for human survival, the environment, socio-economic development, the global economy, food security and the health of current and future generations ”. The treaty – which bans all activities related to nuclear weapons – entered into force in January 2021.
NatWest Group cannot claim to be a responsible bank while continuing to fund companies that manufacture these prohibited weapons of mass destruction.
Disarmament by disinvestment
There is widespread awareness of the catastrophic consequences of the use of nuclear weapons in Scotland and longstanding support for nuclear disarmament within our society. This is reflected in the wide range of organizations that signed the letter to NatWest and in the outrage that followed the UK government’s recent announcement of a 40% increase in its warhead stockpile.
Many of us who have an account with RBS, or another subsidiary of NatWest, will be concerned to learn that our savings could be funding companies involved in the production of nuclear weapons. Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland and its partners, who organized the group letter, are now asking account holders to E-mail NatWest Group on its investment policy. Customers of other financial institutions are encouraged to act too much.
Divestment is ethically important, but it also has the potential to bring about real change. Divestment increases the reputational risk of companies involved in nuclear weapons work and may limit their ability to access finance, which creates strong incentives for them to cease production of nuclear weapons. This is what happened when the producers of cluster munitions were the object of divestment few years ago.
Time for change
NatWest Group defense investment policy should exclude investments in nuclear weapons producers in the same way as it excludes companies that manufacture other prohibited weapons indiscriminately. By changing its policy in this way, NatWest would join a growing list of financial institutions with chosen to end links with the nuclear weapons industry since the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
The bank would take an essential step to become the responsible investor it claims to be, and set an example for others organizations in Scotland to follow.
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