Energy & Environment

Pope to meet with oil execs to discuss climate change: report

Pope Francis will meet with top executives in the oil industry and major investment firms next week at the Vatican to discuss the global effects of climate change, Axios reported.

Among the guests scheduled to attend are Larry Fink, the CEO of asset manager BlackRock, as well as Bob Dudley, CEO of BP, and Eldar Sætre of Norway's oil and energy company Equinor.

Former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who served in the Obama administration, will also attend, according to a spokesperson.

Axios also reports multiple sources that say ExxonMobil would send a representative, but the company did not confirm those reports.

The effort is being organized by the U.S.-based University of Notre Dame.

A Notre Dame spokesman told The Hill in an email that the summit arose as a result of the university's compliance with Francis' 2015 letter urging better stewardship of the environment.

"After Pope Francis issued Laudato Si in 2015, Notre Dame president, Fr. John I. Jenkins CSC, directed all of Notre Dame's schools and departments to identify ways in which they could get on board," said Paul Browne, Notre Dame's vice president of public affairs.

"That resulted in everything from the cessation of coal burning at the university power plant to the oil conference next week in Rome."

BP spokesman Geoff Morrell confirmed the meeting to Axios and stated that Dudley is "looking forward to the Vatican dialogue. 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 efforts by the Vatican to raise global awareness of climate change come one year after Trump's announcement that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris Climate Accords, the largest international agreement dedicated to fighting climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in history.

Since winning the White House, the Trump administration has questioned climate science and eliminated references to climate change from official documents at the Environmental Protection Agency.

-Updated 2:15 p.m.