Pope to oil execs: Clean energy is an 'epochal' challenge

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          Pope to oil execs Energy needs must not destroy civilization

The pontiff, a passionate advocate of action to address climate change, spoke to leading oil and finance executives gathered at the Vatican for a two-day conference about transitioning to clean energy.

The Vatican's conference, called Energy Transition and the Care for Our Common Home, was a closed-door meeting, jointly sponsored by the Vatican and Notre Dame University.

Reuters reports the unprecedented conference was held behind closed doors at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

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".

"As we know, everyone is affected by the climate crisis", he declared.

Pope Francis said that about a billion people are living without electricity and that lacking this basic need hinders their ability to move out of poverty, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While Francis lauded the oil executives for embedding an assessment of climate change risks into their planning strategies, he also put them on notice for their "continued search for fossil fuel reserves", 2½ years after the Paris climate accord "clearly urged keeping most fossil fuels underground".

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Pope Francis in a meeting with the Vatican industry executives says, "It was disturbing that two-and-a-half years after the deal was struck, carbon dioxide emissions and greenhouse gas levels remain very high".

Pressure has been building on oil and gas companies to transition to less polluting forms of energy, with the threat of fossil-fuel divestment sometimes used as a stick.

Among those summoned to a 16th-century villa in the Vatican gardens were the chairman of Exxon Mobil, and the chief executives of British Petroleum, the Italian energy company ENI, and Norway's Equinor, formerly Statoil.

In this regard, he said, "it is important that serious efforts be made to transition to a greater use of energy sources that are highly efficient while producing low levels of pollution".

"The need to expand spaces for human activities can not be met in ways that would seriously endanger our own existence or that of other living species on earth", he said.

He has long considered climate change as one of the key themes of his papacy. "Yet the effects of climate change are not evenly distributed".

"This is a challenge of epochal proportions", he said Saturday. He went on to talk about the difficulties faced by the poor because of things like water shortages and extreme weather that forces them to migrate.

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