Photograph — Daily Post Nigeria

From the first days of his papacy, Pope Francis preached about the importance of the environment, not only as a scientific concern but also a moral one. While president Trump, who is the most powerful political leader, bulked out of the Paris climate deal last year, the widely respected religious leader has continued to canvass for the need to support initiatives to take care of the earth, our home.

According to reports, Pope Francis is hosting a gathering next week at the Vatican with executives of major oil producers and investment firms to talk about how the companies can address climate change. Some of the executives to be at the gathering include Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager; Bob Dudley, CEO of BP; Eldar Sætre CEO of Equinor, oil and energy producer partially owned by the Norwegian government (formerly Statoil); Ernest Moniz, former U.S. Energy Secretary under then-President Obama; and Lord John Browne, former CEO of BP and current executive chairman of L1 Energy, an oil and gas investment firm.

In his first homily as pontiff, Francis called six times during the short sermon for humans to protect creation. And in 2015, Pope Francis wrote his encyclical — a papal letter sent to all bishops of the Roman Catholic Church — on the importance of addressing climate change, a first in the church’s history.

“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” Francis said in a part of the encyclical. “In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.”

The Pope had also indicated his willingness to collaborate and dialogue with world leaders on the issue. “I would like to enter a dialogue with all people about our common home,” Francis said.

Some environmentalists have criticised big energy corporations and their slow-paced move towards greener energy. This proposed gathering is one of the most significant developments showing how world leaders are working to make energy corporations responsible amid the rash decision by President Trump to retreat on the issue.

Last year, Trump had announced his intention to withdraw America from the Paris climate accord, an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change aimed at curbing global temperature rise to under 2C. The Paris agreement now has the support of every country except the United States.

Undeterred by the United States’ president, a broader group of several thousand businesses in the US– including Amazon, Levi Strauss & Co and Google – cities and states, have pledged to follow the Paris goals via the We Are Still In coalition, led by the billionaire former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and the California governor, Jerry Brown.

One of the familiar themes of the Pope’s papacy is an abiding concern for the poor. And the majority of those affected by climate change are the poor, who also make up a huge share of the African population.

Last month witnessed the gathering of political heads of major African cities joining the global rally. At the meeting, they all stated their commitment to bold climate action and pledged to deliver on their share of the Paris Agreement.

However, it’s left to be seen what kind of change and new developments the Vatican gathering will bring.

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