Stories by Eric J. Lyman, journalist in Rome

Pope to huddle with environmental leaders, activists

Pope Francis
Pope Francis at the St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo: Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Francis is hosting environmental leaders, researchers and activists next week at the Vatican to advocate for more aggressive action on climate change, according to multiple officials and an agenda viewed by Axios.

Why it matters: It’s the latest move in Francis’ strategy pushing a worldwide discussion on climate change and comes just a few weeks after he hosted a very different crowd on the same topic: big oil and investment firm executives.

Pope Francis and Big Oil come together on carbon price

Pope Francis waves to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Photo: Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Top energy and investment executives attending a conference last weekend hosted by Pope Francis at the Vatican agreed a price on carbon emissions was essential in transitioning to cleaner sources of energy, according to multiple officials at the meeting.

Why it matters: This takeaway underscores how this particular policy is cementing itself as the preferred path among global oil companies in addressing climate change — even while it remains far out of reach in Washington, D.C.

Pope tackles climate change head-on in address to oil executives

Pope Francis greets the audience during the Weekly General Audience. Photo: Giuseppe Ciccia/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Pope Francis on Saturday told oil executives and other key energy sector figures at the Vatican that the world’s transformation to clean energy was an "epochal" challenge, and that companies' continued search for new sources of fossil fuels was "even more worrying" than the already high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Why it matters: Pope Francis, one of the most recognized figures in the world, is helping to fill the void in climate leadership that was left when the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Agreement on climate. The talks he called address what might be the central issue of the climate debate head on: that the energy companies that helped produce much of the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere must also be a central part of any solution to the problem.