Customers, Students, and People of Faith Charge Vanguard with Short Sightedness on Climate, Assert Their Own Vision at the Firm’s Newtown Square Location

Newtown Square, PA – Yesterday, about 50 people braved the cold rain to protest outside of Vanguard’s office on West Chester Pike. With speeches and songs, demonstrators challenged the asset manager to stop backtracking on its climate commitments. In attendance were members of Earth Quaker Action Team, Extinction Rebellion Philadelphia, Fossil Free Penn, and Fridays for Future Philadelphia. This was the first protest at Vanguard’s office in Newtown Square and the biggest protest at a Vanguard office since the firm ended its participation in the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative last month.

This protest comes after Vanguard’s annual event addressing customers, called “A Look Ahead.” At no point during the virtual event did Vanguard leadership address leaving its climate commitments or even mention climate change-related investment risk. Demonstrators used the protest to offer an alternative “look ahead” for local communities if Vanguard continues to lag behind on climate-safe investing. In addition to financing and investing in environmental destruction across the world, Vanguard also invests in many polluting facilities in the Delaware Valley. 

“Vanguard’s annual customer webinar is called ‘A Look Ahead’, but I never heard CEO Tim Buckley talk about anything longer than a few years out. As I make decisions about where to put my own savings so that I can retire in a couple of decades, I need Vanguard to be thinking longer term,” said Kaytee Ray Riek, Co-Clerk of the Board of Earth Quaker Action Team. “Vanguard quitting its climate commitment shows that company leadership cares more about short-term backlash from the right wing than helping me have a strong retirement and helping all of us, no matter how much we have saved, have a livable planet into the future.”

This protest is part of Vanguard S.O.S., an international campaign made up of civil society organizations, finance experts, grassroots groups, and climate activists. Last year, local groups organized seventeen protests throughout southeastern Pennsylvania to highlight Vanguard’s toxic investments and call on the asset manager to invest for a livable future. 

The Vanguard S.O.S. campaign is calling on Vanguard to implement a series of solutions to address the climate crisis and the detrimental impacts of its investments. As one of the biggest investors in almost every publicly traded coal, oil, and gas company, Vanguard has the means to push the companies it invests in to do significantly better on climate. Last week, Vanguard was ranked at the bottom of the industry – 65 out of 68 major investment firms – in a scorecard by ShareAction on how asset managers vote on environmental and social shareholder resolutions.

“Vanguard’s voting on environmental shareholder resolutions ranks at the bottom of the industry. When dozens of Vanguard’s peers do better year after year, it casts doubt on Vanguard’s excuses that it can’t do any better,” said Ryan Leitner, Director of Organizing at Earth Quaker Action Team. “Vanguard’s own peers show that it can do better, and we showed up in action to say that it must do better.”  

Photos from the protest can be found here

A detailed explanation of solutions that the Vanguard S.O.S. campaign is calling for can be found here.