A Pontifical Academy of Science summit on climate change got underway at the Vatican today. Titled “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity,” United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs are expected to speak with Pope Francis about the effects of global warming.
Francis has made climate change a moral, not just scientific, issue — telling Christians that it is their duty to protect the environment. He is expected to address the UN about global warming when he comes to the states in September, and will attend the UN conference on climate change in Paris in November.
The fossil fuel industry, naturally, has taken umbrage with the pope’s stance on the environment and is sending lobbyists to the Vatican to try and change his mind, The Guardian reported.
The Heartland Institute, a Koch-funded conservative think-tank, said it is was sending its own team of its own climate scientists to “inform Pope Francis of the truth about climate science.”
“Though Pope Francis’s heart is surely in the right place, he would do his flock and the world a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United Nations’ unscientific agenda on the climate,” said Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast.
Part of the problem with Bast’s condescending statement is that the UN’s “agenda” is lined up with the scientific community’s view on global warming. It isn’t, however, lined up with the fossil fuel industry’s “agenda:” profits over everything.
Both Heartland and the American Petroleum Institute — the biggest oil lobbying group in DC — have claimed that fossil fuels eradicate poverty.
“Fossil fuels are a vital tool for lifting people out of poverty around the world, which is something we’re committed to,” the API told The Guardian, while declining to comment on whether or not it was sending lobbyists to the Vatican.
Heartland has also previously said that the world’s poor would “suffer horribly if reliable energy – the engine of prosperity and a better life – is made more expensive and less reliable by the decree of global planners.”
Sending an army of lobbyists and bought-and-paid-for scientists to try and change the pope’s mind is a last-ditch effort by the fossil fuel industry to protect their bottom line. Outside of the Republicans in Congress, most Americans — including most Catholics — believe in climate change.