[Issue 063] Oil execs "closing up shop and moving to solar"


Over the weekend the Pope met with 40 energy executives, investors, and other experts at the Vatican. (See partial list of attendees.)

During the two day meeting, the Pope spoke about climate change and its disproportionate impact on the poor, while imploring his audience to reduce the use of fossil fuels and prioritize the shift to clean energy.


The meeting is in line with Pope Francis' publication three years ago about climate change, where he "blamed special interests for blocking policy responses and indicted the market economy for plundering the Earth at the expense of the poor and future generations." [WSJ paywall]


The event also included other speakers, and was clearly an important gathering about the perils of climate change and its impact on the most vulnerable populations.

Super serious stuff.

But um...

... while researching the event and checking out the few pictures available of the event, I was struck by how horribly boring the gathering seemed.


I mean, seriously.

I'm just saying what you were probably already thinking. So here's a rundown of my immediate thoughts...

Damn I know they're bored. 

Is that guy really taking a photo with his phone? 

I wonder if they RSVP'ed just so they could see inside the Vatican.

How much coffee did they drink to make it through this thing?

I doubt any of them plan to do a single thing differently as a result of this meeting.

Then again, I could just be pessimistic. So I had to chuckle while listening to Friday's Up First podcast segment about the meeting when Joshua McElwee said, "Who knows, maybe the oil executives will announce they are closing up shop and moving to solar!" 

What a dream!



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In news that follows up last week's newsletter far too perfectly: American Express will be releasing a new credit card made from ocean plastic. Overall the company has made a commitment to avoiding single-use plastics, intercepting plastic waste and redesigning using existing plastic and other materials. 

One of my absolute FAVORITE things about creating ABL is learning more about each of you and why you read the newsletter.

It's the reason why I recently launched a new podcast series, Above the Bottom Line Conversations, and hop on the phone with subscribers as often as possible.

Now, I want to test out a new segment in the newsletter where I feature readers like YOU! Interested in being a part of it? Fill out this form.

*Be sure to hit reply and let me know what you think of this idea.*

To get us started...
Meet Sonya, an ABL subscriber since the very beginning 💓


What issue are you most passionate about and why? I'm most passionate about sustainability reporting. Companies currently report all kinds of different metrics on their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance so it's very difficult to tell which companies are the true leaders and which are the laggards. If one company reports a 20% reduction in energy use and another reports the installation of 1,000 solar panels, which company is better addressing climate change?

What actions do you take to influence companies? I work at the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), a non-profit that develops and disseminates industry-specific standards for companies to report on their sustainability performance to investors. While 20% of professionally-managed dollars in the U.S. are invested with some kind of ESG lens, 80% are not. If you can show traditional investors (who control that 80%) how sustainability issues can impact the bottom line, they start to pay attention.

What companies have taken the right steps with sustainability reporting? Some companies have started reporting on SASB standards, such as JetBlue, Bloomberg, and NRG Energy. I admire these companies for their transparency. Most companies would probably prefer to produce a glossy report with pictures of windmills, smiling children, and other corporate social responsibility cliches. Disclosing metrics that investors and consumers can use to compare a company's performance to its peers takes guts.

Why do you read Above the Bottom Line? I love that the newsletter has an opinion, offers highly-relevant news, and has fun animations. I'm subscribed to dozens of sustainability newsletters and ABL is the one that I most look forward to reading.

If you’re interested in connecting with Sonya, you can reach out via LinkedInFacebook or email


Google Bans AI for Weapon Use. Over a dozen employees recently resigned in response to Project Maven, where Google is providing AI tools to the US Department of Defense to analyze drone footage. In response, Google has since told employees that it would not renew the contract when it expires next year and that it will no longer use AI for technology that causes injury to people. // BBC


SeaWorld, Ikea and Royal Caribbean are getting rid of plastic straws and bags. Less than two weeks after a pilot whale died off Thailand with 80 plastic bags in its stomach, three major companies — SeaWorld, Ikea and Royal Caribbean — have vowed to remove plastic straws and bags from their properties. // WASHINGTON POST

Underpaid and Exhausted: The Human Cost of Your Kindle. A recent report exposes the experience of workers in the Chinese province of Hunan, specifically in a factory called Foxconn, which manufactures Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Kindles. They are forced to work 60 hour weeks (more than Chinese labor laws allow), for low pay and in unsafe conditions. // GUARDIAN

AirBnB Will Now Let People Register As Open Homes Emergency Volunteers Before a Crisis Hits. AirBnB has racked up over 17,000 nights for its Open Homes program, which is a voluntary program for hosts to offer their rooms free of charge to people in emergency situations. Now the company is piloting a new version of the program that allows AirBnB hosts to put up their rooms on a standby list, this way there is not a delay between the crisis and organizing rooms for those who need it. // TECH CRUNCH


“Will we turn the corner in time? No one can answer that with certainty. But with each month that passes, the challenge of energy transition becomes more pressing.”

— Pope Francis, speaking to investors and oil executives about climate change 

Nikita T. Mitchell