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Pope urges oil majors to combat global warming and aid poor

11 June 2018

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.

Pope Francis gathered a number of oil executives and money managers at the Vatican on Saturday to discuss the environment and clean energy.

"Energy use must not destroy civilization", he said. He urged them to stop searching for fossil fuels and start focusing on clean energy.

Energy experts and those who advocate fighting climate change expressed doubts before the conference that it would amount to anything other than a PR opportunity for the companies to burnish their image without making meaningful changes.

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Environmental degradation and climate change hurt the poor most of all, he said, telling the group to consider the impact of their economic decisions.

In that conversation, he told them that the Earth is a fragile thing that could even destroy itself and that they were privileged to be able to see the planet "from the eyes of God".

"We know that the challenges facing us are interconnected".

"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 warns.

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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.

"Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest", Francis wrote. No one can answer that with certainty, but with each month that passes, the challenge of energy transition becomes more pressing'. It is the poor who suffer most from the ravages of global warming, with increasing disruption in the agricultural sector, water insecurity, and exposure to severe weather events. "We believe it's possible to achieve climate targets set out in the Paris agreement, but that requires swift, global and coordinated political action to drive changes in consumer behavior and shift investments towards low carbon technologies".

He said it was "disturbing and a cause for real concern" that the levels of carbon dioxide emissions and the concentrations of greenhouse gases remain high despite commitments taken in the 2015 Paris accord to fight global warming.

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Pope urges oil majors to combat global warming and aid poor