Pope Francis has put his foot down: Climate change is such a pressing issue that science and religion must come together for the good of all people. He’s starting with a plea for oil executives to have a come-to-Jesus moment when it comes to environmentalism.
Today, Francis spoke at the second day of an energy summit, called “Energy Transition and Care for Our Common Home,” held at the Vatican in Rome, Italy. It’s a commendable effort, no doubt. However, many of the world’s biggest oil producers are in countries where the Pope doesn’t have much sway—especially those in Hindu, Muslim, Eastern-Orthodox, Buddhist, or secular countries.
Here’s a guest list of the top 15 oil and gas outfits listed in Forbes’ Global 2,000 rankings of the largest publicly traded companies in the world, in descending order of company size. Those who have not yet confirmed to the media as to whether or not they sent a representative to Francis’s climate klatsch are crossed off.
- Royal Dutch Shell
- Reliance Industries
- Phillips 66
- PTT PCL
Data for government-owned and privately held fossil fuel companies are harder to come by. This proposed guest list of 13 fossil fuel firms is based on the Financial Times’ 2006 analysis of the top 150 non-publicly listed companies—outdated, but likely still useful for Francis’ purposes:
- Saudi Aramco
- Petróleos de Venezuela SA
- Kuwait Petroleum Corporation
- Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas)
- National Iranian Oil Company
- Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
- Abu Dhabi National Oil Company
- Iraq National Oil Company
- Libya National Oil Company
- Qatar Petroleum
(Quartz has reached out to the companies listed and will update this article if there are any additional confirmations.)
There were other attendees, of course. Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, and Ernest Moniz, a former US energy secretary, also joined in.
“This is a challenge of epochal proportions,” the Pope told oil execs this morning. He commended efforts that oil and gas companies have made to reduce emissions and their overall carbon footprint in recent years, but warned that they must do much more in order to “turn the corner in time” to limit global warming.
To date, most climate action taken by fossil-fuel companies has been driven by profits: Shareholders want them to confront the reality that their assets are threatened by climate change, and to take responsibility for all of their emissions.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Jerry Taylor, president of the DC-based libertarian think-tank Niskanen Center, said he expects the oil executives to tell the pope they’re open to more rigorous regulatory climate-change action, such as a carbon tax. But, he added, “what is needed is for these oil majors to tell Republican lawmakers of their concern and support for action, not the pope. And this they have not done in any focused, sustained, or meaningful way.” Perhaps the pope can push them to do so by appealing to their best moral selves.
Or not. As the New York Times reported, on June 7, Equinor, the Norwegian oil giant formerly called Statoil, published a report saying the world needs to speed up the transition to renewable energy if we want to meet the Paris agreement targets. The same day, the company put a bid out for stakes in deepwater oil drilling fields off the coast of Brazil.