Pope warns oil executives of ‘catastrophic’ consequences of fossil fuels

Pope Francis has urged oil company executives to switch to renewable sources of energy as he warned that climate change would put humanity at risk.

Oil executives from around the world gathered in the Vatican yesterday for a two-day conference on clean energy strategy, where the Pope today said that climate change was a challenge of “epochal proportions”.

“Civilisation requires energy but energy use must not destroy civilisation,” he told the participants of the conference held behind closed doors at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

“We know that the challenges facing us are interconnected. If we are to eliminate poverty and hunger … the more than 1bn people without electricity today need to gain access to it.”

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“Our desire to ensure energy for all must not lead to the undesired effect of a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments and increased levels of poverty,” he said.

ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Eni, Equinor and Pemex were among the companies attending the conference.

The Pope has been outspoken on environmental policy in the past, promoting further implementation of clean energy and said at the time of the Paris climate agreement of 2015 that it was “worrying” that searches for fossil fuel reserves were continuing.

He even published his own paper on protecting the environment in 2015 called Laudato Si (Praised Be), where he wrote: “The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all”.

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