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Vanguard Exits Net-Zero Venture In Largest Defection Yet

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Vanguard Group Inc. is walking out of the world’s largest climate-finance alliance, marking the coalition’s biggest defection to date as US Republicans step up their threats against firms deemed hostile toward the fossil-fuel industry.

Vanguard’s decision followed a “considerable period of review,” according to a company statement Wednesday.

Withdrawing from the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative, which is a sub-unit of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, “will help provide the clarity our investors desire” about everything from the role of index funds to financial risks in the context of climate change, the firm said. [emphasis, links added]

Mark Carney, the former Bank of England governor who is the chief architect of GFANZ, said earlier this year the alliance has enjoyed considerable growth, and now represents some 550 members with roughly $150 trillion of assets in total.

He also sought to dismiss reports that some members had grown uneasy with the alliance’s structure, amid concerns that they faced growing legal risks for appearing to avoid carbon-intensive sectors.

“It is unfortunate that political pressure is impacting this crucial economic imperative and attempting to block companies from effectively managing risks — a crucial part of their fiduciary duty,” said Kristen Snow Spalding, vice president of the Ceres Investor Network, a founding partner of the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative.

Vanguard indicated its decision rested on a desire to maintain the freedom not to restrict its investment options.

Initiatives such as the net-zero alliance “can advance constructive dialogue, but sometimes they can also result in confusion about the views of individual investment firms,” Vanguard said.

“That has been the case in this instance, particularly regarding the applicability of net-zero approaches to the broadly diversified index funds favored by many Vanguard investors.”

The Malvern, Pennsylvania-based firm went on to say that its withdrawal from NZAM is part of a “continuous assessment of our participation in external organizations and their ongoing alignment with Vanguard’s mission and perspectives on investing.”

Read rest at Bloomberg

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