Local Peace Economy

Why Is the Vatican Meeting With a Morally-Challenged Finance CEO?

Peace, like the environment, should not be dictated by market forces.

Vatican City, Italy - April 30, 2014: Pope Francis on the popemobile blesses pilgrims in St. Peter's Square.
Photo Credit: softdelusion66 / Shutterstock.com

With summer temperatures on the rise, the pope’s June 9 meeting with Larry Fink—CEO of the investment firm BlackRock—and other executives on the issue of climate change couldn’t be more timely. Back in 2015, the pope issued an encyclical on climate change, highlighting that unchecked consumption and greed cause massive devastation to our planet. The pope has repeatedly brought climate change to the forefront of international discussions, including connecting the issue of worldwide hunger with war and climate change.

Forced migrations, hunger, water pollution/scarcity, increased poaching, escalating global insecurity, and the lack of political will to find sustainable solutions are just a few of the common connections between war and climate change. Considering the countless conflicts that have raged across the world and the continued threat of climate change, it’s well past time to hold institutions accountable for profiting on the backs of global destruction.

In October 2017, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink announced that he was going to start holding companies accountable to be good corporate citizens. BlackRock is the world’s largest investment firm, controlling more than $3 trillion in assets. Some of these assets are linked to weapons manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, meaning that Mr. Fink should follow his own advice and set an example for Wall Street.

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CODEPINK has been calling on BlackRock to stop investing in weapons of war. There should be no profit in war (or climate destruction). The pope has been meeting with financial and oil executives because their leadership is needed to pull us out of a spiraling climate crisis. We also recommend that the pope speak to corporate leadership about ending war, as it compounds and escalates the impacts of climate change. In the pope’s 2015 Climate Encyclical he states, “The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces.”

Peace, like the environment, should not be dictated by market forces. When a company’s bottom line is driving decisions, its executives are not considering the impacts of their products on others. BlackRock invests in companies like Lockheed, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing. These companies make the bombs, missiles, tanks, and warplanes that destroy other communities. Their legacy of environmental contamination includes polluting groundwater and leaving behind depleted uranium in soil for generations.

The legacy of war and climate change also includes the destruction of families. Whether through forced migrations or death, families are ripped apart. Pope Francis raised the issue of refugees and forced migrations during his 2018 World Peace Day address. There are over 65 million forcibly displaced people in the world. U.S. military interventions and U.S. produced weapons have played a leading role in displacing millions around the globe. Conservative estimates state that since 2001, U.S. interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan have displaced 10 million people.

The impacts of war and climate change disproportionately impact those who have less, while an elite few let profits drive their decisions and line their pocketbooks. This is why we must Divest From War and invest in solutions like renewable energy. Our investments—personal and public—should reflect the needs and priorities of our local communities, not the bottom lines of Wall Street.

Learn more about how you can be a part of the solution at www.divestfromwarmachine.org.

This article was produced by Local Peace Economy, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Sarah Eckel-Dalrymple is CODEPINK’s Divest from the War Machine campaign manager.

Brienne Kordis is CODEPINK’s DC Director and member of the Divest from the War Machine campaign.