Philadelphia-Area Grandparents Celebrate Grandparents’ Day With Protest At Vanguard, World’s Largest Investor In Fossil Fuels

Vanguard Opposed Almost All Environmental and Social Shareholder Resolutions At Corporate Annual Meetings In 2023

Malvern, PA — Today, almost 50 grandparents, people of faith, and Vanguard customers gathered with signs and banners at an entrance to Vanguard’s global headquarters in Chester County to hear from speakers, sing, and give flyers to Vanguard employees driving to their lunch break. Vanguard is the world’s largest investor in fossil fuels, which participants claim are threatening future generations.  

Dozens of people are outside, standing in a crowd with two large, red banners. In front of them, one person is standing and singing into a microphone. Behind them, there is a sign the says "Vanguard."

Photo by Linda Carranza

At the protest, Elders Action Network, a national organization of thousands, announced that it has joined “Never Vanguard”: a commitment to not invest or work with Vanguard until the company makes a significant course correction on climate. So far as part of Never Vanguard, customers have withdrawn over $22 million from Vanguard accounts and funds. This number is expected to grow as more groups join Never Vanguard in the coming months. 

“As elders, we want a secure retirement and also a livable world for future generations. Both are endangered by Vanguard, the number one investor in fossil fuels, which are destroying our climate and communities,” said Diana Shoemaker, Executive Director at Elders Action Network. “We’re asking for climate-safe investments, for our grandchildren and for future generations.” 

“Twenty five hundred years ago, the prophet Malachai declared ‘The day is coming that will burn like a furnace. But those that affirm the breath of life will find life in the rays of the sun and the wind,’” said Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Founder and Director of The Shalom Center. “Malachai was talking to our generation across twenty five hundred years. We must end investment in the fossil fuels that burn the world, to keep the breath of life alive.”

“Vanguard says it works to protect its customers’ future while at the same time investing tens of billions of dollars in coal and oil. By not using its power as a major shareholder responsibly, it’s allowing fossil fuel companies to destroy our future,” said Lina Blount, Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Earth Quaker Action Team. “We stand with others of moral conscience highlighting Vanguard’s ongoing climate failure and demanding that it do better.” 

Through protests, phone calls, letters, petitions, and other actions over the past two years, campaigners have been asking Vanguard to use its influence as a shareholder to push the companies it invests in to do better on climate, and exit its investments in fossil fuel companies that refuse to transition their businesses to be in alignment with a livable future.

Vanguard recently disclosed that it supported only 2% of environmental and social shareholder resolutions during the 2023 proxy season, down from 2022, when the company supported such resolutions 12% of the time. Soon after, Morningstar gave Vanguard a ranking of “low” on an assessment of its environmental, social, and governance commitments, saying “The firm’s inconsistent integration of ESG factors, paucity of dedicated ESG specialists, and low support for key ESG shareholder resolutions warrant a Morningstar ESG Commitment Level of Low […] All told, the firm’s efforts fall short compared with peers.”

Vanguard is the world’s largest investor in fossil fuels, with about $270 billion dollars of its customers’ savings in coal, oil, and gas. Company leadership has so far refused to take meaningful climate action, lagging behind in the asset management industry by not engaging sufficiently with portfolio companies on climate issues and by failing to release plans to decarbonize its investment portfolio in line with no more than 1.5 degree global temperature increase.

Photos of the action are available here.

Eve Gutman, Earth Quaker Action Team,
Diana Shoemaker, Elders Action Network,