Weapons industry pushing to be called sustainable

War isn’t a favorite topic of ours, but there is no doubt that the war in Ukraine is taking up most of the headlines. And war does have a sustainability perspective as well. That perspective is obviously that war is not sustainable whatsoever.

But war is a money maker, and the weapons industry have been looking for an opportunity to rebrand. Terrible PR from school shootings, mass murders and terrible wars around the world has flipped into good PR for supplying the resistance of the Ukrainian army against the Russian invaders. Now they’re good guys.

Ethical investments

Ethical investment funds, such as the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, have in recent years scaled back or totally banned investments in the weapons industry. Now these companies are primed to increase their sales with countries all over the world. Everyone is scaling up their defense as the Russian threat looms large.

NATO - Opinion: Remarks by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on  launching #NATO2030 - Strengthening the Alliance in an increasingly  competitive world, 08-Jun.-2020
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

And this means the arms lobby is pushing hard for getting their industry labeled as sustainable. That would mean that they get the chance to be involved in so-called ESG funds. ESG is short for Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance, which is a set of criteria laid out by the European Union in the upcoming Green Deal. Activities which fulfill this criteria will be eligible for special funding from the EU.

However, many funds already use similar criteria for their investments, thus disqualifying the weapons industry. C

European governments are scrambling to strengthen their own military strength, while also supporting Ukraine by sending weapons to the front lines. Germany are allocating $110 billion next year to up its defense budget, and many NATO countries are following suit.

The argument laid forward by investment banks on behalf of the lobby is that weapon makers defend the values of liberal democracies. And thus promote peace and stability around the world. It is quite clear that weapons are a necessary evil when the other side of the conflict has them in spades. But does this mean it’s sustainable? Can it be classed like certain kinds of sustainable food? We’re not so sure.