Climate protests outside Vanguard HQ come to an end

Climate protests outside Vanguard HQ come to an end
Extinction Rebellion Buddhists outside Vanguard’s headquarters on Friday (July 22) [Credit: Extinction Rebellion]

Extinction Rebellion protestors intend to end their month-long visits to Vanguard’s headquarters by staging a “cannibal picnic” and “grandparents burning”.

Since July 1, members of the climate action group have parked themselves outside The Walbrook Building opposite Cannon Street Station. Vanguard's head office is situated on the fourth floor of the building.

Campaigning began with one protestor posing dead while another dressed as the Grim Reaper stood outside the firm’s building.

The group has accused Vanguard of having “over $300bn [£249bn] in climate-wrecking fossil fuels”.

Vanguard, which manages around $8.1tn (£6.7tn) for more than 30mn investors, is the largest investor in coal companies globally, according to research published last year.

Currently, some $290bn (£241.3bn), or 17 per cent, of Vanguard’s $1.7tn (£1.4tn) in actively managed assets are set to reach net zero by 2050, with around half of that aiming to be net zero by 2030.

Some 70 per cent of Vanguard’s equity index assets are also invested in companies with emission reducing goals.

But the company has no interim net zero targets for the passive funds that form the bulk of its assets.

Last month, Extinction Rebellion disrupted Vanguard’s ‘Sustainable Life’ roadshow in Glasgow. The group claimed the disruption was what "forced" Vanguard to “cancel” the whole UK tour and move it online.

The climate protestors then decided to take their campaigning to Vanguard’s front door in London. A mixture of Buddhists, grandparents, families, and Amazon protestors have situated themselves outside the office under the slogan ‘Vanguard invests in death’.

This week, protesters are set to be joined by 'Nelly the Elephant' and a group of Samba drummers today (July 25) at 5pm, followed by a collection of ‘bodies’ lying under a white sheet tomorrow (July 26) at 11am.

On Wednesday (July 27), there will be speeches and processions “mourning murdered indigenous peoples from impacted communities”.

While on Thursday (July 28) and Friday (July 29), there will be a staged “cannibal picnic”, followed by a staged display of “grandparents and elders burning” from 11:30am.

“Vanguard has enormous influence over the companies it invests in, so it could make a really positive difference to the clean energy revolution that the world desperately needs,” said Extinction Rebellion spokesperson, Lucy Porter.

A Vanguard spokesperson said the investment manager’s approach to climate change is “clear” and grounded in its duty to safeguard investors from the material financial risks associated with climate change.

“Given the seriousness and complexity of climate risk, we are committed to encouraging real progress to mitigate the potential harm to our clients’ long-term investment returns and goals,” they told FTAdviser.

“We will continue to evaluate our approach as the market evolves and data improves, including assessing our global product offerings for potential net-zero alignment and developing additional net-zero aligned products.”

To date, Vanguard said it has seen “meaningful progress” across both its actively managed and index-based products, as companies embrace greater disclosure of climate risks and plans and set specific science-based risk mitigation targets.