Environment

Pope Francis Criticizes Continued Search for Fossil Fuels at Meeting with Oil Executives

6/9/18
from The Wall Street Journal,
6/9/18:

At Vatican conference, Pope Francis implores investors, oil leaders to help stop climate change, saying the poor ‘suffer most from the ravages of global warming’.

Pope Francis warned against the “continued search” for fossil fuels Saturday and urged a gathering of oil executives, investors and officials to meet the world’s energy needs while protecting the environment and the poor. “Civilization requires energy, but energy use must not destroy civilization!” he said at a Vatican climate change conference attended by top executives including Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Darren Woods, BP PLC Chief Executive Bob Dudley and BlackRock Inc. Chief Executive Laurence Fink. Environmental protection has been a signature theme for Pope Francis, who has said he took the name of St. Francis of Assisi in part because of the medieval saint’s love for the natural world. At the conference, co-sponsored by the University of Notre Dame and featuring nearly 20 speakers Friday and Saturday, the pope said that an estimated 1 billion people still lack electricity and noted that access to energy is an essential resource for escaping poverty. But he warned that a failure to reduce the use of fossil fuels would lead to a “spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments and increased levels of poverty.” The poor “suffer most from the ravages of global warming,” he said, through water shortages and extreme weather which in turn drive mass migration, among other ways.

He lamented the “continued search for fossil fuel reserves” in spite of 2015 Paris Agreement, which “clearly urged keeping most fossil fuels underground.”

Oil leaders were expected to discuss their view that providing energy to those who don’t have it alleviates poverty. The companies also planned to stress their support for global action to reduce emissions, such as a tax on carbon emissions, according to people familiar with prepared remarks on the meeting. Many companies also have begun to invest in renewable energy or potential technological breakthroughs to mitigate the impact of warming temperatures. Exxon is studying how fuel cells can be used to capture carbon emissions at power plants. BP is one of the top generators of wind power in the U.S. and recently invested in a solar company. Norway’s state energy company, formerly known as Statoil, has changed its name to Equinor and is developing offshore wind projects.

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