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Scots financial firms invested £7bn in nuclear weapons

Scots financial firms invested £7bn in nuclear weapons,   Billy Briggs  The Ferret, April 25, 2021, Three major Scottish financial institutions — NatWest GroupLloyds Banking Group and Standard Life Aberdeen — invested a total of £7bn in nuclear weapons over a two year period.

A new report, seen by The Ferret, also reveals two Scots universities held £2.4m of investments in companies that undertake work related to nuclear weapons, while 11 council pension funds together had £275m invested in 20 firms in the sector.

The study is by Don’t Bank on The Bomb Scotland, a network of organisations campaigning for banks, universities, pension funds and public bodies to divest from companies involved in the production of nuclear weapons. It says these organisations together held investments worth £7.2bn in nuclear weapons producers between 2018 and 2020.

Don’t Bank on the Bomb is calling for divestment. It argues that organisations investing in nuclear weapon producers are “supporting activities that contravene commitments made under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty”……

Medact ScotlandScottish CNDPax Christi Scotland and the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre are all members of Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland.

The umbrella group says there is a heightened global nuclear risk at the moment. It points to tensions between the US, Israel and Iran over the latter’s nuclear programme, and deadly clashes between nuclear-armed nations India and China in the western Himalayas. ……..

International law on nuclear weapons was strengthened in January 2021 by the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), the study says. The treaty prohibits the development, production, testing, possession, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons. 

Don’t Bank on the Bomb’s report says the treaty is important to note for investors because financial assistance may be viewed as unlawful under international law.

The roles of three major financial groups based in Edinburgh are highlighted by the report. It says Natwest Group, formerly RBS, held investments worth £2bn in 15 companies between January 2018 and January 2020. These investments were made primarily in the form of loans and through the underwriting of bond issuances, while shareholdings make up a small proportion of the total. 

Natwest has a policy which “only partially restricts investment in nuclear weapons producers”, the report claims. Meetings were held with the bank in 2020 and March 2021 and Don’t Bank On The Bomb said it sent an open letter to it, drawing attention to the “catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons” and the recent entry into force of the TPNW.

The letter called on the bank to exclude nuclear weapons from investment and was co-signed by over 40 civil society organisations, including trade unions, faith organisations and environmental NGOs.,……

Lloyds Banking Group, which is registered in Edinburgh, is also named. It invested £3.4bn in 10 nuclear weapons producers between January 2018 and January 2020, the report says. These investments were made primarily in the form of loans and through the underwriting of bond issuances. ……….

Standard Life Aberdeen, headquartered in Edinburgh, is also cited. The report says the company offers customers some socially responsible investment funds that exclude nuclear weapons producers but adds that most of its funds do not. 

“The company owned or managed shares worth over £1.5bn in 20 of the world’s top 28 nuclear weapons producers between January  2018 and January 2020. Standard Life Aberdeen should stop investing in weapons of mass destruction,” the report says. ……..

Both Glasgow University and Strathclyde University also invest in the nuclear weapons industry. The former held shares worth £1.9m in 16 companies as of 30 September 2020. Strathclyde University owned shares worth £473,633 in two companies – BAE Systems and Thales.

Don’t Bank on The Bomb calls for “student activism” to “persuade” these universities to change their investment strategies. It claimed the University of Edinburgh changed its policy on arms investments in 2016 in response to a five year “responsible investment campaign”, led by students. ……….

The report adds that at least six Scots universities have policies that either explicitly or implicitly restrict investment in nuclear weapons producers. “It is clear that the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde are outliers when it comes to nuclear weapons investments in the Scottish higher education sector,” the study says……….

On council pension funds, the study found that 11 funds collectively held shares worth over £275m in 20 companies that undertake work related to nuclear weapons as at 30 September 2020.

Lothian Pension Fund was the largest investor in nuclear weapons, holding shares worth nearly £126m in five nuclear weapons producers. This includes £102m invested in the world’s largest arms company, Lockheed Martin. Strathclyde Pension Fund came second, holding shares worth £120m in 16 companies.

Don’t Bank On the Bomb Scotland said: “Most Scottish local authority pension funds are reluctant to exclude harmful industries from investment. However, a growing number of Scottish councils are taking a stand against nuclear weapons investments by passing a resolution that calls on their pension fund to divest from nuclear weapons producers……. https://theferret.scot/scots-financial-firms-invested-7bn-nuclear-weapons/

April 26, 2021 - Posted by | business and costs, UK, weapons and war

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