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.

Between the lines: Some big producers, particularly ExxonMobil Corp., have been increasingly vocal about their support for a carbon tax, but so far their rhetoric hasn’t been backed up by active lobbying on the issue in Congress, whose GOP leaders generally oppose any such policy. On the other side of the Atlantic, Europe already has a carbon-pricing system.

Meeting details:

  • Ernest Moniz, energy secretary under President Obama, attended the meeting and said that “one of the areas of focus was carbon pricing to create market incentives for the transition to a low-carbon system,” according to an interview with MIT.
  • Specific details about carbon pricing, such as oil companies’ support for it in Congress, were not discussed, according to multiple meeting attendees.
  • "It needs to not disadvantage the already disadvantaged, that view come out quite strongly from the Vatican side. It needs to be progressive," said one official who attended the conference.
  • Three industry officials in the meeting said that — despite some narratives emerging indicating the pope lectured companies on climate change — it was a genuine two-way dialogue with church officials moderating the discussion more than anything. "Everybody recognized that you need to find a meaningful way to put a charge on carbon," said one meeting attendee.
  • A press release issued afterwards by one arm of the Vatican said technologies including carbon capture and low-cost renewables were among the discussion points.
  • President Trump wasn't mentioned, according to two officials. "I would say it was a very apolitical conversation," said one attendee.

What's next: Notre Dame University, which helped organize this meeting, has indicated it will discuss with participants, which includes CEOs of big oil producers, renewable energy companies and investors, about another meeting, said one participant, though no specific details have emerged on that yet.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Coronavirus surge is sinking consumer confidence

Data: Hamilton Place Strategies, CivicScience; Chart: Axios Visuals

The rise in coronavirus cases in certain parts of the U.S. is stunting confidence across the country, a crop of new reports show.

Driving the news: After stalling during the previous two-week period, overall economic sentiment declined for the first time in two months, according to the Economic Sentiment Index, a biweekly survey from data firm CivicScience and Hamilton Place Strategies (HPS).

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Obama: Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage."
  2. Health: Mask mandates help control the rise in coronavirus hospitalizations. Hospitals face a crush.
  3. Business: Coronavirus testing is a windfall. Winter threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. World: Putin mandates face masks.

The GOP's monstrous math problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Republicans, win or lose next week, face a big — and growing — math problem.

The state of play: They're relying almost exclusively on a shrinking demographic (white men), living in shrinking areas (small, rural towns), creating a reliance on people with shrinking incomes (white workers without college degrees) to survive.