Pope Francis To Convene Global Warming Summit At The Vatican

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

Pope Francis will hold a gathering at the Vatican next week on man-made global warming, focusing on what oil companies and investment firms can do to curtail fossil fuel use and emissions.

Major oil companies, including BP, ExxonMobil and Equinor are attending the conference, Axios reported Friday. The meeting will have “an emphasis on the energy transition of a ‘shared home'” laid out in his three-year-old encyclical Laudato Si, people familiar with the event told Axios. The University of Notre Dame helped put the event together, Axios reported.

However, news of the climate summit comes amid Francis’ silence on Ireland voting to end its ban on abortion, which is only the latest Irish rebuke of the Catholic Church. Ireland became the first country to legalize gay marriage though a popular vote in 2015. The vote to repeal Ireland’s ban on abortion occurred in late May.

“This is devastating for the Roman Catholic hierarchy,” Gail McElroy, professor of politics at Trinity College, told The New York Times. “It is the final nail in the coffin for them. They’re no longer the pillar of society, and their hopes of re-establishing themselves are gone.”

Axios notes the “Pope, BlackRock and big oil companies are increasingly focusing on climate change as cleaner sources of energy have become more competitive, the impacts of a warmer world have become more apparent, and public pressure to address the issue mounts.”

Exxon caved to shareholder measures on climate reporting last December, promising to issue detailed reports on potential risks global warming policies. (RELATED: Chile’s Bishops Resign Over Sex Abuse Scandal, Victims Rejoice) 

Chevron shareholders rejected two global warming-related measures on Thursday, while a majority of Anadarko Petroleum shareholders approved a resolution asking the company to report climate policy risks about two weeks ago.

Major investment firms and environmental groups see corporate shareholder meetings as a new avenue to force “climate transparency” on energy companies. BlackRock, one of the firms invited to the Vatican, has played a role in such matters and also in the fossil fuel divestment movement.

BP confirmed the attendance of CEO Bob Dudley and former Obama Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is also set to attend. Axios could not confirm if Exxon, Equinor or the investment giant BlackRock would attend. Francis will likely speak with attendees next Saturday.

Dudley is “looking forward to the Vatican dialogue,” a BP spokesman told Axios. “He believes gatherings of this kind help develop a better understanding of the energy transition and the best ways for corporations, countries and wider society to participate in it.”

The news comes on the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump announcing he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, which the Obama administration joined in 2016.

The U.S. can’t officially withdraw from the Paris accord until next year, but the Trump administration has already scaled back international climate funding and its foreign policy prioritizes energy exports over cutting carbon dioxide emissions.

“This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States,” Trump said on June 1, 2017.

“The agreement doesn’t eliminate coal jobs; it just transfers those jobs out of America,” Trump added, “and ships them to other countries.”

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