Pope warns of global destruction without fuel shift by energy bosses

Neil Thorns Director of Advocacy at CAFOD 'If energy companies are serious about caring for our common home they need to take Pope's advice'

Pope Francis tells oil executives the world must convert to clean fuel, saying "energy must not destroy civilisation".

"Civilization requires energy", the Pope said, "but energy must not be used to destroy civilization!"

In 2015, his second encyclical was dedicated to the issue, describing it as "one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day".

He said that modern society with its "massive movement of information, persons and things requires an enormous supply of energy", and still, he pointed out, as many as one billion people lack electricity.

In what would nearly seem an attempt to troll the Trump administration, Francis said that "even more worrying is the continued search for new fossil fuel reserves, whereas the Paris Agreement clearly urged keeping most fossil fuels underground".

"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 observed.

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The conference, attended by top executives from Exxon Mobil Corp., BP PLC and BlackRock Inc., included discussions by energy officials who laid out plans to support reduction of emissions, such as a tax on carbon emissions.

Texas-based ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil and gas company, has called for a tax on carbon emissions as a way to reach the goals stated in the Paris Agreement.

The Rev. Seamus P. Finn, a participant at a conference in 2013 that brought mining companies to the Vatican, said that exercise had been useful for the industry and the Vatican "to better understand each other", and that follow-up meetings had "deepened the quality of the conversation".

Pope Francis delivers a speech during a meeting with Youth Eucharistic Movement at the Vatican in August 2015. "No one can answer that with certainty".

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.

The climate encyclical, which is known as "Laudato Si" or "Praise Be to You", is Pope Francis's call to do something about climate change. And still, he said, as many as one billion people still lack electricity. 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.

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