Community Groups Rally to Expose Vanguard’s Very Big Climate Problem

MALVERN, PA — Today, EQAT, Fossil-Free Penn, and local climate groups held a rally and art-filled action to call attention to Vanguard’s billions invested in fossil fuels and other climate destructive projects. A group of about 50 participants held signs, sang, and chalked around Vanguard’s Malvern campus, naming the firm’s climate-destructive business practices as a threat to a sustainable future. While many rallied, a small cohort from the group attempted to deliver a letter to Vanguard CEO Mortimer Buckley, demanding that Vanguard be part of the solution by making an ambitious climate plan that 1. Takes its money out of fossil fuels and 2. Makes meaningful investments that will rapidly address climate change, in time for the much anticipated COP26 talks in Glasgow. Vanguard refused to receive the letter and instead called local police on the peaceful protesters. Today’s rally was one of many in the Fossil Free Future global day of action.

Vanguard is one of the world’s largest investment firms with over $7 trillion under management, and one of the two largest investors in fossil fuels, with $86 billion in coal alone. The company has also been critiqued for its historically poor proxy voting record around climate at invested company shareholder meetings.

“Vanguard, which claims to be protecting people’s future by helping them save, is undermining the future and doing a disservice to its own investors. To say that you’re protecting people’s retirement savings and then invest in coal just makes no sense whatsoever. It also is a great disservice to current and future generations,” said Eileen Flanagan, a volunteer with EQAT and one of today’s speakers. 

“Vanguard has been investing in industries that are killing the planet — coal, natural gas, and oil. This is not right,” said Nick Marcil, a West Chester University student. “We are hurting communities with these industries. I personally have asthma and I’d argue it’s because of what we do to our world. Vanguard needs to do better. We’re all out here trying to hold it accountable.”  

“The Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota, at the headwaters of the Mississippi River, is being built by Enbridge and financed by Vanguard. Enbridge has run roughshod over the treaty rights of indigenous people, and financial institutions like Vanguard need to be held accountable,” said Betsy Torg from the Philadelphia Water Protectors.

“We understand the power that institutions as large as University of Pennsylvania and Vanguard hold to influence the climate change narrative, but we also understand what we can do to make a real shift for climate justice,” said Katie Collier, a member of Fossil Free Penn and UPenn student.