We recently announced that EQAT’s new focus is the Vanguard’s Very Big Problem campaign. We’ve been excited by the enthusiastic response, including from Vanguard customers eager to move their money to funds that are not financing climate catastrophe. That’s great! And the impact of that action will be much greater if we lay some groundwork first before taking action together.
Before coming to EQAT, I didn’t really understand this. Most of my actions to slow climate change were individual and so small, relatively speaking, that they left me feeling powerless. Joining EQAT helped me understand how collectively we can have a major impact if we act strategically. I still hang my laundry to dry and compost my kitchen scraps, but I now think of these as individual acts of integrity, like spiritual practices. To contribute to the scale of change that’s needed, I need to act with others to challenge business as usual.
Money is a crucial pillar of power holding up the fossil fuel economy and climate chaos. Many of us who are fortunate enough to have retirement or other funds with Vanguard may be upset to hear that it is the world’s biggest investor in coal and one of the two biggest investors in gas and oil. But here’s the good news! People working together have already shifted major financial institutions away from fossil fuels, including Blackrock and EQAT’s campaign against PNC.
One of the lessons we learned during the Bank Like Appalachia Matters! campaign was that many Quakers and others were eager to move their money out of a company financing mountaintop removal coal mining, but they weren’t thinking of it as a collective action, so they didn’t necessarily tell us if and how much money they were moving. We only started asking several months into the campaign, so our official number of $3 million moved out of PNC doesn’t include those early money movers. This time, we are setting up a system so that our individual acts of integrity can have the biggest collective impact possible.
That’s why we’re asking Vanguard customers to fill out this form, so we can keep them informed of opportunities to take action, which may include different efforts to pressure Vanguard before we use the bargaining chip of moving our money. Collecting this information will also help us gauge how much money people might be willing to move so that we can tell Vanguard that we are part of a group that collectively plans to move a significant dollar amount. I will be the keeper of this list, holding people’s individual financial information in the highest confidence.
The great thing about being part of a group is that there are many roles, so if you are not a Vanguard customer (or can’t even imagine having such funds), there will be many aspects of our strategy and many ways to contribute. One opportunity on the horizon will be on Friday, October 29th! EQAT will join activists around the globe who are pushing Vanguard and other financial institutions to divest from climate chaos before the COP 26 talks in Glasgow.