WITH the eyes of the world on Glasgow for the COP26 climate conference, a campaign group aimed at raising the profile of the health and humanitarian impacts of the use of nuclear weapons has highlighted a major sponsor’s investment in firms that produce nuclear weapons.

Scotland’s biggest bank, Natwest, is a major sponsor of the event, which will bring together representatives of almost 200 countries aimed at agreeing measures to address the global climate emergency.

However, Medact Scotland said the bank’s ongoing investments in companies that make nuclear weapons contradicts its climate and environmental commitments.

“The detonation of just one nuclear bomb would generate a fireball and shockwave that would destroy everything within the blast zone and spread radioactive contamination far beyond it”, said retired GP Dr Guy Johnson, of Medact Scotland.

“A nuclear exchange using less than 1% of the world’s nuclear weapons would alter the Earth’s climate, leading to widespread famine, while the climate impacts of a full-scale nuclear war could make human existence impossible.”

According to pressure group Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland, NatWest Group held investments worth £2 billion in 15 nuclear weapons producers over a two-year period, which included investments in major arms companies BAE Systems, Thales and General Dynamics.

Linda Pearson, from the campaign group, said: “NatWest Group cannot claim to be a leader in addressing climate change while continuing to finance the nuclear weapons industry.

“Nuclear weapons production is energy intensive and environmentally damaging.

“Ultimately, any efforts to address the climate crisis will be in vain if the world is destroyed by nuclear war.”

In March this year, Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland and its partners sent an open letter to NatWest CEO, Alison Rose, calling on the bank to comprehensively exclude nuclear weapons producers from investment.

The letter was co-signed by 42 organisations including the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Church of Scotland, Unison Scotland and Friends of the Earth Scotland.

Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland is also encouraging individuals to contact the bank directly.

“We want NatWest to live up to its climate commitments”, Johnson said.

“That means the bank must recognise the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons and cut all financial ties with the companies that make them.”

A spokesperson for Natwest Group told The National: “We have robust policies and processes relating to the defence sector through our environmental, social and ethical risk management framework.

“Our policies reflect adherence to national and international laws and regulations, wherever they apply.

“We have also incorporated a number of voluntary standards such as the Equator Principles and the UN Global Compact.”

On the banks approach to wider climate change concerns, the spokesperson added: “As the UK’s leading business bank, and one of the largest for retail customers, NatWest Group has made addressing the climate challenge and supporting our customers through the transition a key strategic priority.

“We have a strong track record of delivery, we have ambitious targets and we are playing a leading role in building powerful partnerships to bring about change, including through our sponsorship of COP26.”