Thursday 29th September 2016                 Change text size:

Triodos Bank divests from Google over arms link



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Ethical bank Triodos has taken the decision to divest from Google after an acquisition means the firm now has links with US defence agencies and the development of armed robots. Triodos Bank has a zero tolerance policy on arms.

Google has acquired Boston Dynamics, a company that is specialised in the development and production of robots. The issue arises because a part of Boston Dynamics is financed by the US defence agencies, particularly related to the development of armed robots.

Google has claimed that it will not focus on activities involving armed robots but has so far not engaged with Triodos on the issue. As a result, the bank has excluded Google from their sustainable investment portfolio.

Eric Holterhues, fund manager at Triodos Bank, explained, “Triodos aims to be a frontrunner in the sustainable investments sector. That’s why we adhere to a zero tolerance on arms and arms trade.”

He continued that the decision to sell all shares in Google has been difficult, adding, “For both the Triodos Sustainable Equity Fund as well as the Triodos Sustainable Mixed Fund Google has been the most important to these funds respectively with a 4 en 1.6% of their total fund value.”

Triodos’s decision should raise interesting questions for ethical and sustainable investors around how they will react to the news and assess similar situations.

Activities involving arms have long been screened out of ethical portfolios due to the potential damage and destruction. Several groups have come under fire recently for investing in arms despite their missions and policies suggesting this area of investment should be avoided.

Last year the Church of England was found to have £10 million invested in one of the world’s biggest arms manufacturers, whilst Comic Relief also faces criticism for its links with the industry.

Photo: Robert Scoble via Flickr

Further reading:

Triodos head of SRI: invest sustainably to ‘change the world’

Triodos demonstrates power of ethical finance

Google closes in on $1bn renewables investment landmark

Google continues sustainability pioneering

Church of England under fire for £10m arms investment


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