Pope addresses world oil exec’s on energy-pollution challenge

Pope Francis told world oil executives meeting at a two-day conference at the Vatican that transiting to less-polluting energy sources “is a challenge of epochal proportions”.

The two-day conference was a follow-up to Francis’s 2015 encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’.

The encyclical calls for an energy policy “aimed at averting disastrous climate changes that could compromise the well-being and future of the human family, and our common home”.

Climate change risks destroying humanity and energy leaders need to help the world move to less-polluting energy sources, Francis told the conference.

“Civilization requires energy, but energy must not destroy civilization”.

Although about a billion people don’t have electricity, today’s “massive movement of information, persons and things requires an immense supply of energy”, Francis said.

“The energy question has become one of the principal challenges, in theory and in practice, facing the international community.

“The way we meet this challenge will determine our overall quality of life and the real possibility either of resolving conflicts in different areas of our world or, on account of grave environmental imbalances and lack of access to energy, providing them with new fuel to destroy social stability and human lives”.

In essence, this involves finding ways to meet everyone’s energy needs without “creating environmental imbalances resulting in deterioration and pollution gravely harmful to our human family, both now and in the future.

“Air quality, sea levels, adequate fresh water reserves, climate control and the balance of delicate ecosystems – all are necessarily affected by the ways that human beings satisfy their ‘thirst’ for energy, often, sad to say, with grave disparities”, Francis said.

Francis praised oil and gas companies for refining their investment strategies to take into account environmental and sustainability questions.

“New approaches to ‘green finance’ are beginning to emerge,” Francis said.

While Francis acknowledged the progress being made, he urged the executives to keep working on the pressing need to move to cleaner energy.

Participants at the conference included the CEOs of Italian oil giant ENI, British Petroleum, ExxonMobil and Norway’s Statoil as well as scientists and managers of major investment funds.

The Vatican has not released any reports from the first day of the closed-door conference.


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