International Disarmament Institute News

Education and Research on Global Disarmament Policy

January 14, 2020
by mbolton
1 Comment

Nuclear Weapons are Risky Business: Divestment as Financial Prudence

May 2018 Protest by New York City Activists Calling for Divestment from Nuclear Weapons. Photo by Robert Croonquist, 2018.

The majority of the world’s governments – along with many faith leaders, Nobel Prize Laureates and civil society voices around the world – see nuclear weapons as morally abhorrent. On 7 July 2017, 122 states adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of the Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which comprehensively bans nuclear weapons, including assistance to those engaged in prohibited actions like production, manufacture and stockpiling. As a result, there is growing momentum for divestment from nuclear weapons, with some of the world’s largest pension funds already disinvesting.

According to a new report published by the International Disarmament Institute at Pace University,  disinvestment is not simply a moral stand; it is a prudent and perspicacious assessment of the significant long-term downside risk and stigmatization inherent in nuclear weapon production. Nuclear weapons investments strongly conflict with fiduciary responsibility given their increasing regulatory, reputational and environmental legacy risks. Further, nuclear weapons themselves pose catastrophic risks to the global economy that have no simple technocratic fixes. Removing investments in nuclear weapons producers, which are limited to about 0.25% of New York City’s pension fund assets, is a wise course of action with respect to both future returns and the progressive reputation of New York City. Divestment captures the long-term externalities created by nuclear weapons production.

Download Nuclear Weapons are Risky Business: Divestment as Financial Prudence for New York City’s Retirement Systems here.

Readers may be interested in a more general review of New York City’s policy and practice on nuclear weapons, available here.

The New York Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (NYCAN) also published a report on divestment in January 2019, which is archived here.

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