Say what you will about the Vatican, but it has become an advocate of some incredibly progressive ideas since Pope Francis became head of the papal state. Most importantly, though, Francis is using his immense influence to make the world more environmentally-conscious.
Just this week, the Pope welcomed the CEOs of global investment funds and more than a dozen energy companies, including ExxonMobil, BP, and Chevron, inside the 9th Century Vatican walls. In a personal appeal to them, Francis insisted the executives follow sound science to avert “a climate emergency” that risks “perpetrating a brutal act of injustice towards the poor and future generations.” He made it clear that time is of the essence to keep global warming below 1.5°C by the end of the century, and that US oil companies must act even in the face of America’s pull-out of the 2015 Paris accord. And you know what? The CEOs actually received the message.
In a joint statement, they agreed to the need for a three-pronged approach that calls for further innovation and investment in sustainable energy solutions and the introduction of new carbon pricing mechanisms, and even carbon taxes. In an executive letter, they also vowed to adhere to the Paris Agreement.
Whether these oil companies will stick to their vows will have to be seen, but already their willingness to listen to the Pope and put their pledges on paper is a sign that we’re moving away from the old narratives of climate change denial.