The two-day conference was sponsored by the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. Paul J. Browne, a Notre Dame spokesman, said the university’s president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, had been inspired by the pope’s 2015 encyclical, instructing “all schools and departments of the university to respond to Francis’ evocative appeal on behalf of ‘our sister,’ the Earth.”
Many had complied, he said, including by expediting plans to stop coal burning at the university power plant. Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business also began planning the conference “to discuss ways to transition from fossil fuel consumption,” Mr. Browne said.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, one of the architects of “Laudato Si’,” as the pope’s encyclical is known, opened the conference on Friday at Casino Pio IV, a villa that houses the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
The academy’s chancellor, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, told the Italian newspaper La Stampa that speaking to the oil executives was important “because today they control the economy but also the policies of many countries, particularly in the G-20,” he said, referring to the group of the world’s major economies.
In his 2015 encyclical, Francis, a vocal supporter of the Paris accord, warned that climate change represented “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.” He called for a model of energy transition.
On Saturday, the pope reiterated his call for a transition from fossil fuels “to a greater use of energy sources that are highly efficient while producing low levels of pollution.” It was a challenge, he acknowledged, “of epochal proportions,” but also one that presented an “immense opportunity” to “promote the sustainable development of renewable forms of energy.”