Eight climate activists were arrested Wednesday at the Malvern headquarters of Vanguard, one of the largest mutual fund investment firms. Members of the Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) and Extinction Rebellion Philly say Vanguard should be using more of its economic muscle to actively disinvest in companies contributing to global warming, including Big Oil producers like Exxon and Chevron.
The company manages more than $8 trillion in assets, and according to EQAT, has more than $300 billion invested in fossil fuels.
EQAT says it has sought a meeting with Vanguard’s Global Head of Investment Stewardship John Galloway for more than a year, only to be ignored.
“We can’t keep waiting for years,” EQAT member Eileen Flanagan told WHYY. “Vanguard has many levers it could use to move us away from climate catastrophe.”
The local campaign is part of a larger global effort called S.O.S Vanguard, which aims to wean Vanguard off fossil fuels more quickly and emphasize the financial risks involved in continued investments in companies that produce oil, gas, and coal.
“We know that as the largest investor in companies like Exxon and Chevron, Vanguard has a major responsibility for pushing the fossil fuel industry away from climate destruction,” said Dana Robinson, an EQAT member who was arrested as part of Wednesday’s action. “Instead, its voting record on shareholder resolutions shows it is not truly looking out for its own clients, let alone future generations.”
Robinson and seven other activists were arrested by the Tredyffrin Township Police and charged with defiant trespass, a misdemeanor. The others were Nancy Sleator, Jean Van Orman, Johannah Cordon Hill, Judy Winters, Walter Hjelt Sullivan, Eric Moss, and Richard Cole.
Flanagan says the next step is to take its message to Vanguard CEO Tim Buckley and hold a Quaker Meeting, or worship, in front of his house.
Quakers, or the Religious Society of Friends, have a commitment to “speaking truth to power” and recognizing that everyone has the ability to change, said Flanagan. “We call this ‘coming under the weight,’” she said. “We don’t see evidence that they are ‘coming under the weight’ of the seriousness of climate change. We’re going to pray in front of [Buckley’s] house for him to ‘come under the weight’ of this. We are called to challenge the role corporations are playing in the destruction of our planet.”
Vanguard did not return requests for comment.
Editor’s note: A previous version misstated that Vanguard manages more than $8 billion in assets. Vanguard manages more than $8 trillion in assets.
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