‘No mir­a­cles’ for pope’s green talks

The Sunday Independent - - World -

VAT­I­CAN CITY: Pope Fran­cis is due to meet some of the world’s oil ex­ec­u­tives next week, prob­a­bly to give them an­other moral nudge to clean up their act on global warm­ing.

Cli­mate change pol­icy and sci­ence ex­perts are cau­tiously hope­ful but aren’t ex­pect­ing any mir­a­cles or even no­tice­able changes.

The con­fer­ence will be a fol­low-up to the pope’s en­cycli­cal three years ago call­ing on peo­ple to save the planet from cli­mate change and other en­vi­ron­men­tal ills, Vat­i­can spokesper­son Greg Burke said on Fri­day. Car­di­nal Peter Turk­son, who set up the con­fer­ence on Fri­day and Satur­day with the ex­ec­u­tives, said the pope would speak to the lead­ers on the sec­ond day of the sum­mit, or­gan­ised with the Univer­sity of Notre Dame, in In­di­ana, in the US.

Of­fi­cials at the Vat­i­can and Notre Dame would not dis­close who was com­ing but it was re­ported that ex­ec­u­tives from BP and ExxonMo­bil would be at­tend­ing.

Michael Op­pen­heimer, a pro­fes­sor of geo­sciences and in­ter­na­tional af­fairs at Prince­ton Univer­sity, in the US, doubted any­thing “mea­sur­able” would come out of the con­fer­ence but he was nev­er­the­less hope­ful.

Oil com­pa­nies had talked about fight­ing cli­mate change but hadn’t done much be­yond talk, said MIT pro­fes­sor John Ster­man.

The pope of­fered “moral per­sua­sion” but if it was just a photo op­por­tu­nity for oil ex­ec­u­tives to show off “it doesn’t mean any­thing and, in fact, it’s just PR to help oil com­pa­nies bur­nish up their im­age while they con­tinue to de­lay ac­tions”, Ster­man said.

Jerry Tay­lor, pres­i­dent of the Wash­ing­ton think tank Niska­nen Cen­ter, thought the oil ex­ec­u­tives would tell the pope they were will­ing to ac­cept ac­tion, such as a tax on car­bon diox­ide emis­sions.

“But 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.” The pon­tiff needed to push them fur­ther on the moral­ity of what they’re do­ing, he said.

Dana Fisher, a so­ci­ol­o­gist who stud­ies en­vi­ron­men­tal­ism at the Univer­sity of Mary­land, said the pope was ce­ment­ing his lead­er­ship on cli­mate.

“He cer­tainly is try­ing to lead for the planet – and we need it.”

Gary Yohe, an eco­nomics and en­vi­ron­ment pro­fes­sor at Wes­leyan Univer­sity in Con­necti­cut, said the ex­ec­u­tives might feel com­pelled to lis­ten to the spir­i­tual leader of nearly 1.3 bil­lion Catholics.

“This is not some­body you can ig­nore,” Yohe said. “It might be a come-to-Je­sus mo­ment for them.” – AP/African News Agency (ANA)

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