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Quakers and the Vanguard S.O.S. Campaign

Published: Oct. 14, 2022

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Dear Friends,

I encourage you to read the remarkable press release below, which I received last week from Eileen Flanagan of Earth Quaker Action Team.

Speaking from my own participation in this “Vanguard S.O.S.“ day of action, I'd like to emphasize how gathered the worship was at all three sites – Philadelphia, London, and online. All of us reported a sense of felt spirit and connection amongst the three groups and at each site – in the streets of suburban Philadelphia, in central London, and online with participants from across North America. Reflecting on the Zoom Meeting for Worship, despite the busyness of seeing action going on in both Philadelphia and London, despite the flat screen view, this was a profound time of worship, with spirit moving in our hearts and deep messages rising.

from Shelley Tanenbaum, Quaker Earthcare Witness (10/12/2022)

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 7, 2022

Contact:
Eileen Flanagan, eileen[at]eqat[dot]org 215-400-1547

Quakers Concerned with Climate Change Worship from California to London as part of the Vanguard S.O.S. Campaign


WAYNE, PA – On Friday, October 7, almost fifty members of Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) walked to a quiet residential street in Philadelphia’s suburbs where they unfolded metal chairs and sat down for thirty minutes of powerful Quaker worship across from the suburban home of Tim Buckley, CEO of Vanguard. Meanwhile, British Quakers held their own worship service outside Vanguard’s London offices, while Quaker Earthcare Witness joined both groups over Zoom, connecting Friends from Pacific, North Pacific, Intermountain, and several other yearly meetings.

As one of the largest asset managers in the world, Vanguard has the means to pressure fossil fuel and other companies in its portfolio to shift their business practices away from climate destruction and into alignment with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Outside Philadelphia, Quakers were joined by Jews, Mennonites, and Catholics in praying for Tim Buckley to “come under the weight of the climate crisis.” The group also prayed for divine guidance and courage for themselves as they seek to pressure Vanguard to change course.

“We are bringing the urgency of the climate crisis to Tim Buckley’s doorstep,” explained Carolyn McCoy, a Philadelphia Quaker and one of the group’s founders. “But we are also sincerely praying for him to show courage, as we seek divine guidance and courage ourselves in the face of the greatest crisis humanity has known.”

The visit to Buckley’s residence is part of the ongoing and global Vanguard S.O.S. campaign.

Click here to read about the "Vanguard S.O.S." campaign.

In April 2022, EQAT led a 40-mile walk from polluting facilities in Chester along the Delaware River to Vanguard’s headquarters in Malvern. With over 300 people participating, the walk dramatized the connection between Vanguard’s investments and the environmental racism and climate destruction experienced in the Delaware Valley. On September 21 of this year, eight people from EQAT and Extinction Rebellion Philly were arrested at Vanguard Headquarters for refusing to leave when they were denied a meeting with John Galloway, Global Head of Investment Stewardship, who has refused to meet with representatives of the campaign, despite a year and a half of requests.

Click here, if you subscribe to the Philadelphia Inquirer, to read about EQAT’s walk in April 2022.

EQAT points out that Vanguard is not acting as a good steward, investing billions in coal expansion, which is a huge financial risk to Vanguard customers, as well as potentially catastrophic for future generations. This year Vanguard received the worst possible score — zero out of 30 on their climate commitments — in a scorecard ranking 30 major asset managers released by Reclaim Finance.

Click here to read the strategy developed by Urgewald research group to encourage Vanguard to divest from coal production.

Click here to read the April 2022 Asset Manager Scorecard from Reclaim Finance.

After the silent worship across from his home, EQAT plans to deliver a letter to Buckley, urging him to reflect on his own role in averting climate chaos, which Vanguard acknowledges as a “fundamental risk” to its shareholders. The letter will encourage him to participate in the upcoming global COPO27 conference on climate change this November as a first step toward the kind of leadership and stewardship the Vanguard S.O.S. campaign hopes to see from Vanguard. EQAT’s letter will also explain that people from Hawaii to London were praying for him on October 7, and many will continue to do so.

Click here to read Vanguard’s statement about their investments and climate change.

Click here to read the list of demands that “Vanguard S.O.S.” is presenting to Vanguard.

Part of a month of climate action by people of faith around the world, the October 7 worship also coincides with the 250th anniversary of the death of Quaker abolitionist John Woolman, who visited the homes of Quakers profiting from slavery to encourage them to change course. EQAT takes inspiration from Woolman and previous generations of Quakers, including those in the Delaware Valley who risked going to prison as part of the Underground Railroad and those who risked their lives to oppose nuclear testing.

Click here to learn more about this month of action.

“Today, all of us have a role to play in standing up to those who are recklessly threatening our future for short term profit,” says Eileen Flanagan, co-director of EQAT. “Tim Buckley’s role is especially large because his influence is especially large. This may put him in the line of fire of the right-wing campaign against responsible climate action, which is why I am praying for his courage, even as I pray for my own strength to continue challenging one of the most powerful asset managers in the world.”

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CONTACT AND INTERVIEWS

For more information, questions, or to set up interviews please contact:

Eileen Flanagan, EQAT Director of Strategy and Partnerships, Eileen[at]eqat[dot]org 215-400-1547

Carolyn McCoy, EQAT founding member, carolyn.mccoy[at]outlook[dot]com 215-528-4823

 

PHOTOS, RESOURCES, MORE INFORMATION

Click here for photos from the protest, which will be posted here once available.

Click here to read a letter to Vanguard CEO with 107 organizational signers.