One of the most powerful ways we can put pressure on the nuclear industry in this country is through divestment – withdrawing our funds – or even just threatening to withdraw our funds, from the companies who make nuclear weapons and from the financial institutions who finance those companies. – including banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, pension funds, asset managers, sovereign wealth funds and some national membership organizations.
- The first step to divestment is doing your research: knowing which companies and financial institutions are complicit in the nuclear weapons business and knowing where your money goes.
- If you have money in one or more bank accounts, check the list of banks to see if your bank is loaning money or underwriting loans to the nuclear industry, or managing or issuing shares or bonds on their behalf.
- If you have one or more credit cards, check the list of banks and credit card companies to see if they are loaning money or underwriting loans to the nuclear industry, or managing or issuing shares or bonds on their behalf.
- If you pay premiums to an insurance company, for health insurance, home insurance, car insurance, travel insurance or other types of insurance, check the list of insurance companies to see if they are loaning money or underwriting loans to the nuclear industry, or managing or issuing shares or bonds on their behalf.
- If you pay, or have paid, into a pension fund or retirement scheme, check the list of pension funds to see if they are loaning money or underwriting loans to the nuclear industry, or managing or issuing shares or bonds on their behalf.
- If you pay an annual membership fee to a national membership organization like the AAA, check the list of national membership organizations to see if they are loaning money or underwriting loans to the nuclear industry, or managing or issuing shares or bonds on their behalf.
- If you have investments of your own, you may be able to apply an ‘investment screen’ that screens out companies and financial institutions you do not want to support. You will want to check the list of investment banks, asset managers and sovereign wealth funds to make sure they will allow you to screen out the offending companies.
2. The next step to divestment is contacting the relevant financial institutions to let them know about your personal concerns regarding nuclear weapons, the significance of the Nuclear Ban Treaty in terms of making the financing of nuclear weapons illegal under international law, and asking for confirmation that they are indeed involved in the financing of nuclear weapons and if so, why? You can find a draft letter to send to your bank or other financial institution here.
3. Depending on the response you get to your letter, how significant your holdings in that institution are, and how much time you want to spend having an ongoing discussion with them about this, you will want at some point to move to a more public condemnation of their continued involvement in the nuclear weapons business. This may include letters to the editor of a local newspaper, a speech or other publicity stunt outside the head office or a local branch of the institution, tweets and other social media comments, letters to your elected representatives, etc. The aim here is to embarrass the financial institution into taking your concern more seriously. You can find a draft press release here.
4. At some stage, you may want to consider actual withdrawal of funds from the financial institution concerned. You would never want to do this without going through the previous two steps, because if no one knows about it, and especially if the bank itself doesn’t know why you are doing it, the effectiveness of withdrawing your funds as a means of influencing the bank or other institution is lost. A draft letter to announce your withdrawal decision is here.
5. The final stage of divestment is deciding where to reinvest the funds you have withdrawn from an offending institution. Along with the lists provided here of offending institutions will be lists of banks and other financial institutions who have themselves divested from the nuclear industry and are ‘Treaty Compliant’. We, of course, want to reward those companies and financial institutions who make that choice. We also want to explicitly make the link between the need to divest from the nuclear industry and the need to invest in the technologies needed to address climate change.
Other excellent resources are available at www.dontbankonthebomb.com.