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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Don’t Bank on The Bomb

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More than 40 organisations are calling on NatWest Group (formerly known as RBS Group) to end £1.6 billion in loans to 11 companies involved in producing nuclear weapons.

In a letter released today, religious organisations, trade unions and representatives of civil society called on 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 letter comes following public outcry over the UK government’s decision to increase the UK’s number of nuclear weapons by up to 40%.

Citing NatWest Group’s commitment to “work responsibly with our clients and our customers to encourage sustainable practices and enable economic activities that create shared prosperity for current and future generations”, the letter highlights the known catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, and their incompatibility with the principled investment approach the group seeks to implement.

The Church of Scotland, Unison Scotland and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament are among the 43 organisations that have signed the letter, which has been sent to the bank ahead of its Defence Policy Review.

Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) stated:

“Since January, nuclear weapons have been prohibited under international law, NatWest Group has the opportunity during its defence policy review to exclude nuclear weapon producers in their entirety and ensure that the financial services provided to a company do not benefit the production of nuclear weapons.”

ICAN won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to bring about negotiation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The Treaty – which bans all nuclear weapons activities – entered into force on 22 January 2021.

The Very Reverend Dr Susan Brown, Convener of the Faith Impact Forum of the Church of Scotland, said:

“For more than 30 years the Church of Scotland has opposed the possession, use or threat to use nuclear weapons.

“We celebrated the recent entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as a step on the road to eliminating these indiscriminate, inhumane weapons once and for all.

“Major financial institutions, including NatWest Group, should now support the aims of the Treaty by excluding companies that make nuclear weapons from investment.”

Linda Pearson, Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland said:

“The British public is outraged over the government’s decision to increase its nuclear bomb stockpile by up to 40% when nurses were offered a measly 1% pay rise.

“Recent polling shows that three quarters of people in the UK 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.”

The full letter can be found here.

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