By Joyce Rothermel
This month when the shareholders of PNC gather for their annual meeting on Tuesday, April 28, members of the Stop Banking the Bomb campaign will be present and make our demands known: change PNC policy and stop making loans to companies that are a part of the nuclear weapons industry.
In a recent release, PNC announced, “As a precautionary measure related to coronavirus or COVID-19, it is possible PNC may hold the annual meeting solely by means of remote communication. If PNC determines to do so, the decision will be announced in advance, and details on how to participate in the annual meeting will be available at http://www.pnc.com/ annualmeeting.”
Either way, the SBTB campaign members will participate. Efforts must go on to deter the continuation and proliferation of nuclear weapons on the planet.
We have hope. More and more financial institutions are saying no to nuclear weapons. The Don’t Bank on the Bomb report conducted by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), “Beyond the Bomb,” profiles 77 banks, pension funds, insurance companies and other financial institutions throughout the world that now have policies to not invest in nuclear weapons. This number is a 14% increase since its report in 2018.
More financial institutions than ever are refusing to finance the nuclear weapons industry. They are not alone: the movement rejecting the legitimacy of nuclear weapons continues to grow. In 2017, states from around the world voted to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; a comprehensive prohibition on the most destructive weapons ever created. As more and more states sign and ratify this Treaty moving it closer to entry into force, it becomes increasingly clear that nuclear weapons are not a part of the security system of the future.
Financial institutions can use their position in the global economy to contribute to nuclear disarmament. Enacting comprehensive policies on nuclear weapons provides an incentive to companies to end production of materials designed to commit mass murder. This contributes to the stigma on nuclear weapons. Refusing to invest in companies that produce nuclear weapons is also an accurate reflection of public opinion, as most recent polls show a clear rejection of nuclear weapons.
Excluding companies involved in the production of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons but also other inhumane and illegal weapons such as cluster munitions, landmines and chemical weapons, is the new normal. The number of financial institutions with (comprehensive) policies listed in Don’t Bank on the Bomb has grown from 35 in 2014 to 77 in the 2019 report. And this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Thirty-six institutions have comprehensive policies in place. Their policies are best-practice and an example to the rest of the financial sector. The report also profiles 41 financial institutions whose policies are not yet comprehensive enough and may still have investments in nuclear weapons producers. By adopting a policy restricting investments in nuclear weapons, they demonstrate a shared understanding that nuclear weapons are controversial.
To view the full report, go to dontbankonthebomb.com. (Information about the report is drawn from an article by Maaike Beenes, who works for the humanitarian disarmament program for PAX in the Netherlands.)
Joyce Rothermel serves on the Coordinating Committee of the PNC: Stop Banking the Bomb Campaign.
For more information on how to get involved in the age of COVID-19, call Joyce at 412-780-5118.
NewPeople Newspaper VOL. 50 No. 3. April, 2020. All rights reserved.