Tim Buckley’s Retirement Puts Vanguard’s Climate Practices in the Spotlight – and Creates Opportunity for a New Future

An illustrated black and white photo of Vanguard CEO Tim Buckley wearing a captain's hat with his fingers in his ears overlaid on a bright red background


March 4, 2024


Under Buckley’s leadership, Vanguard is the planet’s largest investor in fossil fuels, putting Vanguard customers’ financial security at risk

Upon news of Vanguard CEO Tim Buckley’s forthcoming retirement, the Vanguard S.O.S. network is raising questions about Buckley’s legacy as well as the company’s future.

“Vanguard prides itself on having been a visionary in expanding investment access, but somewhere along the way leadership lost its sense of direction,” said Roberta Giordano, campaign manager of Vanguard S.O.S. “Mitigating climate risk is a necessary, responsible, business practice. And the energy transition presents a tremendous opportunity for Vanguard clients — but the company is failing to meet the moment. We urge the board of directors to meet with climate risk experts and stakeholders during this leadership transition, and select a CEO who is prepared to bring the company into the future.”

Time and again Vanguard has shown disregard for responsible risk management, by deprioritizing and ignoring climate risk management in its portfolio,” said Jessye Waxman, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club. “Tim Buckley has the luxury of retiring in a stable climate, but Vanguard’s continued investment in drivers of climate risk means that many of its clients won’t enjoy the same privilege. We can’t retire on a planet on fire. With this coming change of leadership, Vanguard has the opportunity to course correct and take real responsibility for its clients’ future.”

The Vanguard S.O.S. network, which consists of civil society organizations and financial experts pushing Vanguard to right the course on climate risk, sees this leadership transition as an opportunity for the company’s future. Vanguard is currently the world’s top investor in fossil fuels – and its actions to mitigate climate risk lag behind even slow-moving peers like BlackRock and State Street.

To date, Vanguard has refused to address concerns about material risk from climate change. They’ve even ignored letters from their own clients that called into question their fiduciary responsibilities. In recent years, Vanguard has taken steps backward, including dropping out of the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative.

“Under Tim Buckley’s leadership, Vanguard has caved to right wing politicians and failed to adequately address the material risks of climate change – thus putting Vanguard clients’ investments at risk,” said Lina Blount, Director Strategy and Partnerships of the Earth Quaker Action Team, which has staged multiple actions at Vanguard’s headquarters. “Buckley’s retirement now offers the board an opportunity to steer the company in a new direction: one that puts responsible business over politics, puts long term financial security over short-term fossil fuel profit, and helps ensure a liveable planet for all of our futures.”

“Vanguard’s record betrays our future: it has walked back its climate commitments, failed to responsibly and actively vote its proxies, and continued to be one of the largest investors in fossil fuels,” said Rabbi Jacob Siegel, climate finance advisor at Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action. “Our investments must honor our planet and generations to come. The new CEO will have an opportunity to stop caving to the short-term greed of dirty energy companies, steer the company safely through long-term risk, and help secure a livable future.”


About Vanguard S.O.S.

Vanguard S.O.S. is an international campaign pushing Vanguard to chart a new course away from climate catastrophe and toward truly sustainable and responsible investing. The network is made up of civil society organizations, social movements, and financial experts working together to secure a climate-safe future for everyone.