Pope Francis Warns Oil Executives That Fossil Fuels Threaten Humanity

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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.

The unprecedented conference, held behind closed doors at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, brought together oil executives, investors and Vatican experts.

Drawing heavily on his ground-breaking 2015 encyclical on climate change Laudato Si, Pope Francis stressed that short-term economic growth and universal access to energy should not come at the expense of the planet.

In 2015, his second encyclical was dedicated to the issue, describing it as "one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day". "If we are to eliminate poverty and hunger. the more than one billion people without electricity today need to gain access to it".

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On Saturday, the pope reiterated his call for a transition from fossil fuels "to a greater use of energy sources that are highly efficient while producing low levels of pollution". "Our desire is to provide energy for all should not lead to undesirable effect to irreversible climate change", said the Pontiff.

Pope Francis meets a group of children who traveled on a special train from Milan and arrived at St. Peter's station Saturday at the Vatican as part of an initiative to give children living in disadvantaged areas of the country a day of joy.

Pope Francis has told oil executives the world should convert to renewable fuels, calling the continued search for fossil fuels "worrying".

The oil and gas industry has faced increased pressure from investors and ecological activists to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as outlined in the 2016 Paris climate agreement.

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Though oil and gas companies had made "commendable" progress and were "developing more careful approaches to the assessment of climate risk and adjusting their business practices accordingly", he said, those actions were not enough.

ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Eni, Equinor and Pemex were among the companies attending the conference.

Francis told the gathering Saturday that modern society with its "massive movement of information, persons and things requires an enormous supply of energy". Pope Francis strongly supported the Paris Climate Accord, and has implicitly criticized the United States for withdrawing from the agreement.

"This is a challenge of epochal proportions", he said Saturday. He noted that the poor pay the highest price for climate change, often being forced to migrate due to water insecurity, severe weather and an accompanying collapse in agriculture.

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