The world’s top oil conference will be hosted this year in Vatican City. The heads or senior executives of companies including Exxon Mobil, Eni, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Pemex, will attend the conference, organized by the University of Notre Dame in the United States, to discuss the climate change and the transition away from fossil fuels.
The oil and gas industry has come under increasing pressure from investors and activists to play a bigger role in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases in order to meet goals set out in a 2015 climate agreement signed in Paris.
Pope Francis is also expected to address the conference on June 8-9.
In the 2015 encyclical, called “Laudato Si (Praise Be), On the Care of Our Common Home,” Francis, the first pope from a developing nation, advocated a change of lifestyle in rich countries steeped in a “throwaway” consumer culture and an end to an “obstructionist attitudes” that sometimes put profit before the common good.
In several passages in the six-chapter encyclical, Francis confronted head-on both climate change doubters and those who say it are not man-made.
He said there was a “very solid scientific consensus” that the planet was warming and that people had to “combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it” because greenhouse gases were “released mainly as a result of human activity.”
Francis called for policies to drastically reduce polluting gases, saying technology based on fossil fuels “needs to be progressively replaced without delay” and sources of renewable energy developed.
Last year, Francis, who strongly supported the Paris agreement on climate change, implicitly criticized the United States for pulling out of the accord.
The chancellor of the academy where the conference will be held, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, called the U.S. withdrawal a “huge slap in the face” for the Vatican.
Reporting by Philip Pullella; Additional reporting by Ernest Scheyder, Ron Bousso and Nerijus Adomaitis;