Pennsylvania based asset manager, Vanguard, is the world’s second largest asset manager, with over $8 trillion in assets under management. Vanguard is referred to as a “universal owner,” with ownership stake in over 10,000 corporations. The financial institution dominates market environments and consequently has the ability to set industry norms. Asset managers have largely ignored calls for divestment from extractive industries. Asset managers, like Vanguard, have failed to include a robust racial and environmental justice orientation in their business practices. In turn, they flood extractive industries with capital. Industries like the carceral and fossil fuel industries use those investments to extract from low-income and BIPOC communities.
There’s less than a week to go until COP26, the United Nations climate conference which some are calling the most important yet. As folks across the globe make their way to Glasgow, pressure is mounting to hold the corporations that are investing in, funding, and insuring climate destruction accountable. These actions are culminating in a global day of action on Friday, October 29th. As part of the runup to this critical global conference, we’ve seen a massive influx of actions to hold the world’s two largest asset managers, BlackRock and Vanguard, accountable. From vigils and mural paintings outside BlackRock’s San Francisco office to bike actions targeting Vanguard’s CEO (himself an avid cyclist) at its headquarters in the outskirts of Philadelphia, people impacted by corporate inaction on climate are coming together and raising their voices with the aim to push these firms to make meaningful (not just performative) climate commitments ahead of COP26.