Activists Shut Down Vanguard’s Global Headquarters to Highlight Asset Manager’s Dangerous Inaction on Climate, 16 Arrested by Local Police

Malvern, PA – On Wednesday, April 19, Vanguard customers, Quakers, and other climate activists blocked four driveways leading into Vanguard’s campus during the morning rush hour. They were staging an intervention to Vanguard’s business as usual to demonstrate the urgency of the climate crisis, which Vanguard enables as one of the world’s two largest investors in fossil fuels and a major laggard in responsible shareholder engagement.

Sixteen people, ages 22 to 84 years old, were arrested. They were taken into custody by the Tredyffrin Police Department and transferred to the Chester County Prison.

“This is an ‘all hands on deck’ moment for addressing the ecological crisis. I’m here today because I feel that urgency and because we need Vanguard leadership to also feel that urgency,” said Frank Fortino, member of Extinction Rebellion Philadelphia who was arrested. 

The protestors participating in the blockade were joined by others who rallied in support, singing and sharing testimonials about why they were called to take action. In total, about one hundred people participated in the protest, including members of Earth Quaker Action Team, Extinction Rebellion, Dayenu, Elders Action Network, POWER Interfaith, the Sierra Club, Third Act, Fossil Free Penn, and the Shalom Center. 

At the same time, hundreds of Vanguard customers from across the United States were calling the asset manager, asking Vanguard to do better on climate. That national distributed action was organized by GreenFaith and Elders Action Network. 

This protest is part of “Vanguard S.O.S,” an international campaign made up of civil society organizations, grassroots activists, and financial experts working together to demand that Vanguard chart a new course away from climate catastrophe and toward truly sustainable investing. The Vanguard S.O.S. campaign is calling on Vanguard to implement a series of solutions to reverse the detrimental impacts of its investments. Despite acknowledging that climate change is a material risk to investors, Vanguard has failed to release a comprehensive plan that integrates climate risk into its investment strategies. 

Last Friday, Vanguard released its Investment Stewardship Annual Report detailing the firm’s engagement and proxy voting record for 2022. Vanguard asks portfolio companies with high exposure to climate risks to disclose some of their emissions.The Vanguard S.O.S. campaign is calling on Vanguard to shift its engagement strategy from disclosure to actual decarbonization, adopting a default position to vote in favor of viable climate shareholder resolutions and against corporate boards and directors when a company lacks a clear climate transition plan that aligns with a 1.5°C pathway. 

Vanguard has about $300 billion invested in fossil fuels – making it one of the two biggest investors in fossil fuels worldwide. Vanguard’s climate actions lag far behind even slow-moving peers like BlackRock and State Street. According to a 2021 report, Vanguard could lose at least $3 trillion by 2050 if it fails to act on the climate crisis.

“Whether we are saving for retirement or barely making ends meet, we all want our families to thrive. Unfortunately, right-wing politicians are intent on dividing us so they can keep profiting from fossil fuels for as long as possible, and Vanguard is following them down this dangerous path,” said Eileen Flanagan, Director of Strategy and Partnership at Earth Quaker Action Team. “Instead, we need Vanguard to be taking meaningful and ambitious climate action.” 


Photos from the protest are available here.