Vanguard CEO Tim Buckley has defended his decision to exit the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative, saying the group’s “voice was being drowned out,” according to news reports.

A February 21 report by the Financial Times, citing an interview with Buckley, stated that he doesn’t “believe that [Vanguard] should dictate company strategy.”

“It would be hubris to presume that we know the right strategy for the thousands of companies that Vanguard invests with,” he said. “We just want to make sure that risks are being appropriately disclosed and that every company is playing by the rules.”

When Buckley’s $7.2-trillion fund manager announced its exit from the climate initiative back in December 2022, it came under fire from environmental activists for not doing enough to accelerate the decarbonization of its portfolio companies. However, U.S. Republican politicians also accused it of failing to sufficiently support fossil fuel industries.

Buckley, however, said that while “politicians and regulators have a central role to play in setting the ground rules to achieve a just transition to a lower carbon economy,” Vanguard was “not in the game of politics.”

Vanguard currently offers ESG index funds excluding certain heavy polluters, which “allow investors to express their values and preferences,” but this?“has to be an individual investor’s choice,” argued Buckley.

The development follows Vanguard’s release of a whitepaper outlining its expectations on how boards should effectively oversee, mitigate, and report on climate-related risks and opportunities.

The white paper argues that “climate-competent” boards will be expected to consider both the physical risks associated with climate change, rising sea levels, and temperature changes, as well as transition-related risks such as regulatory changes and technological disruption, and plan for their impacts.