Dear Mr. Skeoch
I am writing as a member of Standard Life to express my concern about your business practice relating to nuclear weapons.
The report ‘Banks, Pensions and Nuclear Weapons: Investing in Change’ has assessed the investment of banks and pension providers in nuclear weapon-producing companies, and scored them out of 30 based on their policy, practice and transparency in this area. Standard Life scored just 4/30 against these criteria. The report also highlights that Standard Life has shares amounting to $374 million in 2 companies involved in the production of nuclear weapons since 2017.
With the recent entry into force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), it is vital that your company considers these issues. This is an international treaty which prohibits nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or assisting anyone in engaging in any of these activities. Now is the right time to develop an approach that moves towards actively seeking and encouraging change. These weapons are inherently indiscriminate in their nature and present a serious moral and humanitarian challenge to peace in the world today.
Before the adoption of the TPNW, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction not subject to a comprehensive ban treaty in international law, despite their indiscriminate nature. The TPNW means that companies involved in their production should be treated in the same way as those producing other controversial weapons such as biological weapons, cluster munitions and landmines. Consequently, investment policies should stringently avoid companies involved in the production and maintenance of nuclear weapons.
Simply offering clients an ethical fund which excludes nuclear weapons-producing companies is not enough. Blanket exclusions should be the default, and customers should not be required to go out of their way to research your ethical options simply to be ethical in this important respect. Exclusionary policies should also be applied to whole companies involved in the production of components designed for use in nuclear weapons, whether or not such companies primarily produce commercial products.
In assessing a number of banks and pension providers, the report mentioned above shows that it is feasible, as well as being responsible and necessary, to apply stringent screening processes which exclude any company which is involved in the production of nuclear weapons – and indeed, some of your competitors have already made this step. The PAX/ICAN Don’t Bank on the Bomb report identifies less than 30 companies globally with a material involvement in the production or maintenance of nuclear weapons.
Please clarify how the entry into force of the TPNW is affecting your business practice. I don’t want my pension to be exposed to the support of nuclear weapons and call on you to review your shareholding and investment policy in light of the new international treaty.
I am sure that many of your customers would agree with me that exposing our money to nuclear weapons is neither desirable nor responsible and would be most grateful to receive a response.