Over 40 organisations have called for NatWest Group to mind the gap in its defence sector policy and stop financing nuclear weapon producing companies.
ICAN's Executive Director Beatrice Fihn writes in The Herald, "Prosperity is not bought by nuclear bombs, nor by spending our money on weapons that are outlawed. NatWest has the chance to take concrete steps toward joining the Scottish people in building a responsible and sustainable future with investments in products and communities that build up our world, and avoiding weapons that risk ending it." SHARE -->
The Church of Scotland, Unison Scotland, ICAN and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament are among the 40+ organisations that have signed a letter to NatWest Group CEO Alison Rose to update the group’s defence sector policy to reflect that nuclear weapons are now prohibited under international law. The call comes following widespread condemnation of the UK government’s decision to increase the cap on the nuclear weapons in its stockpile by up to 40%.
The current policy only partially restricts investment in companies that undertake nuclear weapons work, while it unconditionally prohibits any investments in companies producing landmines or cluster munitions, which are also prohibited under international law.
As of January 2020, Natwest Group had over £1.6 billion in outstanding loans to 11 nuclear weapon producers, a tiny fraction of its overall lending. (To put in into context, NatWest Group lent £31.5 billion for mortgages in 2020). NatWest Group has a broad enough portfolio it doesn’t need to invest in companies connected to weapons of mass destruction.
Linda Pearson of Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland said “Recent polling shows that nearly two thirds of people in the UK want the government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, while 77% support a total ban on nuclear weapons globally. NatWest Group should better reflect the values of its customers, and that means ending its support for the nuclear weapon industry”.
NatWest Group has a roadmap to increasing its sustainable banking practices, and that includes an update to the defence sector policies. One of the Group’s goals committed to “work responsibly” with clients and customers “to encourage sustainable practices and enable economic activities that create shared prosperity for current and future generations”.
ICAN welcomes the chance to encourage NatWest Group to divest from nuclear weapon producers and revise its policy to reflect the illegitimacy of nuclear weapons. Now the Treaty on the Prohibition is in force, banks too must cut ties to these immoral, inhumane and illegal weapons. Now it’s NatWest Group’s chance for change.
Join the Call
Clients of RBS, NatWest or Ulster Bank now have a unique opportunity to call on NatWest Group to change its defence policy to comprehensively exclude nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Weapons Finance Research Group has put together resources, including a draft letter, for clients to reach out to their bank about this issue. Alternatively, you can send the NatWest Group some encouragement on twitter, Facebook and instagram, below.