Malvern, PA: Eight Quaker climate activists arrested at investment firm Vanguard’s headquarters

cross-posted from the Philadelphia Inquirer

Members of the Quaker group, Earth Quaker Action Team, protest at Vanguard headquarters in Malvern on Wednesday.

Eight Quaker climate activists were arrested Wednesday after protesting at Vanguard’s main headquarters in Malvern. The group sought a meeting with the investment company’s stewardship executive, while drawing focus to the firm’s record on environmental issues.

“We still haven’t seen Vanguard hold companies accountable,” said Christina Tavernelli, EQAT research team chair. “BlackRock has a coal-exclusion policy, while Vanguard does not.”

Together, BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street manage roughly $20 trillion and vote at least 25% of shares across the S&P 500. This gives the firms an outsized influence to shape corporate behavior, according to Earth Quaker Action Team, known as EQAT, a group of climate activists based in Philadelphia.

EQAT hopes to see Vanguard better integrate climate justice into their business decisions, including phasing out investments in companies that rely on coal, excluding fossil fuels from investments, and committing that 100% of the money they manage will go toward zero-emissions by 2050.

Investment portfolios are the latest political football. Trillion-dollar asset managers are now targets of both left- and right-leaning political activists. Progressives claim firms managing trillions of dollars in assets should push the underlying portfolio companies harder to address climate change; political conservatives, meanwhile, claim that doing so could hurt returns for mom-and-pop retirees, who are trying to save as much as possible.

A mixed bag for investment firms

The reality of ESG investing — an acronym for environmental, social and governance issues — is complicated. Each firm claims a varying level of commitment to climate policy.

To sort through the noise, a nonprofit called As You Sow runs a free database called that ranks all funds on Wall Street by environmental measures. Some Vanguard funds rank very highly — such as the Vanguard Real Estate ETF, which earned an “A” grade — while others in the index fund category receive low or even “F” grades.

“Vanguard is known for being this very large index fund provider, which doesn’t actively stock pick companies in their index funds,” said Daan Van Acker, program manager for InfluenceMap, an international firm that compiles data on how business and finance are influencing climate issues. “As a result, stewardship on climate issues isn’t a focus.”

Stewardship is the use of influence by institutional investors to maximize overall long-term value. Activists have expanded that to include common economic, social and environmental factors.

When compared to Vanguard, BlackRock’s CEO and stewardship staff “have been more vocal [on climate issues]. BlackRock in recent years has published case studies that are available for anyone to read,” Van Acker said.

“Vanguard claims to have engaged on climate issues but not specifically on the process or the outcomes,” he said. “Fidelity is a little worse. They don’t do much around climate at the moment.”

InfluenceMap gave BlackRock a grade of “B”-minus, Vanguard a “C”, and Fidelity a “D” for engagement with climate issues.

Pushback by both sides

EQAT’s action Wednesday wasn’t its first. In April, the group pressured Vanguard with a weeklong march highlighting its holdings in coal, oil, gas, and other polluting industries as “a major driver of climate destruction and environmental racism.”

Groups such as EQAT want Vanguard to phase out thermal coal from all portfolios, with a priority on any firms still expanding coal mines or coal power capacity. Conservatives want hands off, said Van Acker.

And conservatives now are waging their own battle against what they allege is “woke” portfolio management, a direct response to such groups as EQAT.

In August, a group of more than a dozen attorneys general in Republican-leaning states signed a letter to BlackRock’s CEO Larry Fink, suggesting that changing portfolios based on climate change inherently prevented shareholders from the best returns.

BlackRock “appears to use the hard-earned money of our states’ citizens to circumvent the best possible return on investment,” the letter stated. “BlackRock’s past public commitments indicate that it used citizens’ assets to pressure companies to comply with international agreements such as the Paris Agreement.”

BlackRock was first out of the gate marketing ESG investing, said University of Delaware professor Charles Elson, who edits the magazine Directors & Boards.

Elson, however, doesn’t think the investing firms should be moved by political causes. “Using other people’s money to further a position you find appealing is problematic,” he said.

“Coal is still legal in this country. A retirement plan’s obligation is to maximize the value for those who invest,” he continued.Once it becomes a tool to promote social change, the corporation is the wrong place for that. It should be happening at the governmental level.”

Looking ahead

Vanguard in August said it would launch another new ESG fund as part of a series aimed at socially responsible investing. The Vanguard Global Environmental Opportunities Stock Fund will hold a concentrated portfolio of companies that are involved in decarbonization and that derive at least half of their revenue from activities deemed by the fund’s adviser to contribute positively to environmental change.

On Wednesday, the eight EQAT members were arrested for trespassing on Vanguard property and taken to the Tredyffrin Township police station. They were released but told they would be charged with misdemeanors, which has yet to happen, said EQAT spokeswoman Eileen Flanagan.

Reflecting on Vanguard’s new ESG funds, Flanagan said: “That’s positive, but it’s not stewardship. It’s not what they pledged: to engage with companies to mitigate climate change. ESG funds don’t take the place of using their influence at Exxon to change course.”

Vanguard did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday’s events.

Citizen Monitors Overseeing Log Removal Stop Activities in Jackson State Forest; “No More Broken Promises!”

pic via Redwoods Earth First!

Redwood Nation Earth First!

For immediate release

Sept. 22, 2022

Contact: Andy Wellspring 707-367-4701,

Citizen Monitors Overseeing Log Removal Stop Activities in Jackson State Forest

“No More Broken Promises!”

Ft. Bragg, CA – On Wednesday morning, Sept. 21, 2022, forest protectors nonviolently stopped operations in the highly contested timber harvest plan (THP) known as Red Tail, in Jackson State Demonstration Forest (JDSF) 6 miles east of Ft. Bragg near the popular Camp One campground. Activists were present yesterday as Citizen Monitors, to ensure that only previously-downed logs are being removed via existing roads, and that no further logging or road building operations are attempted.  This is pursuant to the CalFire-led walk in Red Tail in May 2022 to discuss the THP, where CalFire asked the Coalition to Save Jackson to put concerns in writing.

See photos from the monitors at the bottom of this release.

The largest community concern in the Red Tail THP is that CalFire, the agency managing Jackson, is not following their own Option A regulations governing how they meet sustainable objectives. The overarching concern is that CalFire is cutting in excess of the limits on Old Growth and Older Forest Development.  Citizen Monitors found extremely old trees turned into logs in this supposedly Older Forest Development zone of JDSF, see photos.

Longtime community member and THP authority, “Linda Perkins stated, “Red Tail is an Older Forest Development Area under Option A, as designated in the JDSF Management Plan. Our concerns, stated in the letter sent [by Linda Perkins and Matt Simmons] on December 15th, 2021, still stand. The Red Tail THP violates the JDSF Option A, and we still await a written reply.”

Local resident and forest defender Anna Marie Stenberg said, “The utter destruction we saw in Redtail today makes it clear that Cal Fire’s “new vision for the forest” is more of the same propaganda. They are destroying our State Forest as quickly as they can.”

Other concerns noted by the Citizen Monitors yesterday include the damage done to roads and the softer soil on the edges of roads by heavy machinery due to the cable yarding and log decking processes.  “They were clearly working after recent heavy rains and should not have been on these small dirt roads. When the next rain comes it is going to wash this soil right down into the river, which causes siltation and death for salmonids.  Coho salmon were found in this fork of the Noyo River this past year, for the first time in many years, and they must be protected from this devastation.”

Red Tail is one of four plans where Cal Fire has announced they will resume operations, regardless of public outcry and despite being in the midst of Government-to-Government talks and consultations with the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians to establish ground rules for a new co-management plan for the publicly-owned 48,000 acre redwood forest.

In a press release issued on Aug. 25, Deputy Director for Resource Management Mathew Reischman unilaterally declared that “Working with local Native American tribes, forest stakeholders, timber operators, conservation organizations and the local community has brought us to a reasonable place for resuming sustainable operations (italics added) in the Jackson Demonstration State Forest.” To the contrary, activists and community members involved in the Campaign to Save Jackson say this is far from the truth.

Jackson activists reject the meager “modifications” CalFire is offering as piecemeal and wholly inadequate. For example, cutting “smaller trees” only up to four feet in diameter, slightly increasing protections for cultural heritage sites while continuing to desecrate them, and removing slash piles, which is already required by law. They insist a new Mandate is needed to remove the requirement that the forest produce lumber and instead create a new paradigm focused on cultural heritage protection, restoration and recreation.

Protests have proliferated since CalFire’s announcement, with Earth First! activists blocking logging access, marches in Ft. Bragg and demonstrations on Highway 20. Six people were arrested in Sacramento August 30th at the California Natural Resources (CNRA) building while protesting CalFire’s betrayal. The six linked arms and blocked the doors as fifty protestors chanted “No More Broken Promises!” The CNRA building is the workplace of CalFire’s boss, Secretary Wade Crowfoot, who has been at the forefront of negotiations with the Pomo Tribe, calling on him to immediately reinstate the moratorium, aka “pause,” on all logging activities in Jackson.

Redwood Nation Earth First! plans to attend the rally hosted by the Coalition to Save Jackson on September 28th, 2022, at the California Natural Resources Agency Headquarters, where the State plans to celebrate their 30×30 climate change goals.  Earth First! will be not be celebrating, but rather sharing the truth of what is happening in JDSF.




Press release sent on behalf of

Redwood Nation Earth First!

by Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters



San Francisco Bay Area: Climate Activists Crash JPMorgan Chase’s Corporate Challenge Race

photo cred: Jade Northrup

cross-posted from Oil and Gas Action Network

CONTACT: Piper • 408-202-9416 •

BREAKING: Climate Activists Crashed JP Morgan Corporate Challenge Race

Protesters challenged the largest funder of the fossil fuel industry.

SAN FRANCISCO —Activists at the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge foot race on September 20 in San Francisco aimed to raise public awareness and demanded that Chase stop lending billions annually to the oil and gas industry. Protesters entered the race course and raised a 30 foot banner reading “CHASE Stop Funding Fossil Fuels” in front of the finish line. Activists on kayaks with banners off the 3rd street bridge, a large “Chase Bank” facade set up along the course with a pipeline spilling black water “oil” out the front, banners along the race course, and street theater characters all sent the message to participants that Chase must end all investment in fossil fuels.

The action included an art gallery where photojournalist and Paradise resident Allen Myers, displayed his photos of friends and family standing in the ashes of their homes. Myers said, “I’ve watched the climate change in my lifetime. We know climate change played a role in the Camp fire. These photos show the face of the climate crisis and that it is here, right now in California, and the companies funding this crisis have got to be stopped.”

“Letters and other polite requests have not worked,” noted Alec Connon of Stop the Money Pipeline, a coalition of more than 230 organizations. “We feel it is vital to make life uncomfortable for JP Morgan Chase at public events in order to stop their funding of the climate chaos that is rapidly becoming a disaster for us all.”

JP Morgan Chase is the world’s largest fossil fuel banker. In the six years

photo cred: Peg Hunter

after the Paris Agreement was adopted in late 2015, Chase provided nearly $382 billion to fossil fuel corporations that are building coal mines, oil pipelines and fracked gas terminals ? that’s 36% more than any other bank in the world.

“We’re part of a global movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground. People power is fighting to keep money out of Big Oil,” said Leah Redwood, an organizer with Extinction Rebellion San Francisco Bay Area. “We are seeing the impact of the Climate Emergency – floods, heat waves, wildfires, sea level rise – every day. Cutting the supply of money to the fossil fuel industry will cut off the oxygen that is fueling this global disaster and will give us all a fighting chance.”

Participating activist organizations include:

  • 1000 Grandmothers for Future Generations
  • 350 Bay Area
  • 350 Seattle
  • Diablo Rising Tide
  • Direct Action Everywhere
  • Extinction Rebellion SF Bay Area
  • Oil and Gas Action Network
  • Regenerating Paradise
  • Rich City Kayaks
  • Silicon Valley Climate Action Now
  • Stop the Money Pipeline
  • Sunrise Bay Area
  • Third Act Sacramento

#JPMCC #ChaseClimateChallenge

#  #  #

Germany: Arrests as climate protests disrupt coal power plant, Berlin traffic

The protesters said they were “taking the end of coal power into their own hands” as German plans to wind down coal usage are at least partially derailed by the war in Ukraine

cross-posted from

Police have cleared activists from a coal power plant and the rail lines leading to it, detaining several people. The protest impacted power output. Meanwhile, in Berlin, another group blocked busy intersections.

Police in eastern Germany cleared climate protesters from the site of a coal power plant on Monday after the operator said their actions had forced a reduction in output.

Demonstrators targeted both coal storage areas at the power plant and the rail lines used to transport fuel to the power station in Jänschwalde, near Cottbus.

The group, whose “Unfreiwillige Feuerwehr” name roughly translates as “unwilling fire fighters,” said that roughly 40 of its members were on site.

“We are taking the coal power exit into our own hands here, today,” the group said.

The state interior minister spoke of an act of sabotage, while police said the case clearly involved criminal activity.

Partial reduction in output caused, no power outages

According to a spokesman for the Leag energy company, Thoralf Schirmer, activists disrupted both a coal storage facility on site and rail lines feeding the plant.

Schirmer called the activities an “attack on the security of [electricity] supply.”

He said that the disruptions forced the lignite (or brown coal) power plant to run at roughly half capacity temporarily, but that normal service was resumed later on Monday. The reduced output did not lead to power outages.

Police described efforts to clear the site as time-consuming, saying it was difficult to remove or detach the protesters from train tracks or other pieces of equipment.

Police did not comment on the number of people involved but a spokesman did tell German news agency dpa, “what’s clear is that this is a criminal case.”

“Fossil free future: scrap coal, gas, and nuclear power plants,” the sign partly written in German reads in full

Ukraine throws German coal and nuclear shutdown plans into question

Germany’s plans to transition away from both nuclear power and coal were already set prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the conflict is putting pressure on plans to shut down the last nuclear reactor at the end of 2022 and the last coal power plant in 2038.

The Jänschwalde coal plant, for instance, may be firing up two more block units in a few days that had until recently been kept as an emergency reserve. This decision is still pending approval from the state environmental agency, however, following a challenge to the move to reactivate blocks E and F at the site.

Two of the country’s last three remaining nuclear plants also look set for at least a few more months in service than previously planned, if and when government and the plants’ operators can agree on a new timetable.

The issue is also causing tension in the coalition government, which incorporates the environmentalist Greens, the center-left Social Democrats (with a longstanding history opposing nuclear power but also with close historic ties to miners’ trade unions), and the business-focused Free Democrats (FDP), which is urging its two more senior partners to waive their concerns in the face of high prices for Russian gas.

On Monday, Finance Minister Christian Lindner of the FDP said German coal and nuclear plant operators needed “clear security for planning” at least until 2024.

“We must get to the roots of the problem,” Lindner said. “We need these power plants in the European electricity mix.”

Berlin activists block major roads

Meanwhile, in the capital Berlin, police mobilized to halt a separate protest organized by the “Extinction Rebellion” group.

People gathered at three major choke points in the city center, with the main group erecting a pink mock drilling platform outside the Federal Environment Ministry building at Potsdamer Platz.

They also congregated at two junctions off the Unter den Linden street, one adjoining Charlottenstraße and the other linking up with Friedrichstraße.  According to the organizers, 250 people appeared at the Charlottenstraße intersection alone.

Berlin’s police said they deployed around 450 officers to deal with the demonstrators. This was difficult because several of them had glued themselves to the road or pavement, they said.

Extinction Rebellion complained that police checks and searches had impeded them. It also said it was planning further activity in Berlin on Tuesday.

msh/wd (AFP, dpa, Reuters)