A boy takes a selfie with Pope Francis as he arrives in St. Peter's Square for his general weekly audience, at the Vatican on March 14, 2018. March 13 was the 5-year anniversary of Pope Francis’ election as Bishop of Rome. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope to oil execs: Clean energy is an 'epochal' challenge

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis told world oil executives that the transition to less-polluting energy sources "is a challenge of epochal proportions," and warned that the satisfying the globe's energy needs "must not destroy civilization."

The Vatican said the two-day conference with oil executives was meant as a follow-up to the pope's encyclical three years ago calling on people to save the planet from the ravages of climate change and other environmental ills.

Participants 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. Their remarks on the first day of the closed-door conference Saturday (June 9) were not released by the Vatican.

While Francis lauded the oil executives for embedding an assessment of climate change risks into their planning strategies, he also put them on notice for their "continued search for fossil fuel reserves," 2½ years after the Paris climate accord "clearly urged keeping most fossil fuels underground."

"Civilization requires energy, but energy must not destroy civilization," he implored.

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.

In his remarks, the pope said he hoped the meeting gave participants the chance to "re-examine old assumptions and gain new perspectives."

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

The pope said meeting the energy needs of everyone on the planet must be done in ways "that avoid creating environmental imbalances, resulting in deterioration and pollution that is gravely harmful to our human family, both now and in the future."

Frances also recalled his own appeal in the "Laudato Si" encyclical 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." That includes transitioning to efficient, clean energy sources.

"This is a challenge of epochal proportions," he said Saturday. "At the same time it is an immense opportunity to encourage efforts to ensure fuller access to energy by less developed countries ... as well as diversifying energy sources and promoting the sustainable development of renewable forms of energy."

The pope called for a "long-term global strategy to provide energy security," along with "precise commitments" to tackle the challenge of climate change.

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.

He urged participants to use their "demonstrated aptitude for innovation" to address "two of the great needs in today's world: the care of the poor and the environment." 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.

"The transition to accessible and clean energy is a duty that we owe toward millions of our brothers and sisters around the world, poor countries and generations yet to come," the pope said.


  1. Oil executives are no more listening to the pope than they are to the man in the moon. They’re listening to the Gordon Gekko character in the movie “Wall Street” who said, “greed is good.” But kudos to the pope for trying. Maybe someone will listen, even though it probably won’t be Big Oil.

  2. Bravo to Francis for trying. At least he is not in league with those who maintain that God put fossil fuels in the earth for our use and would not allow them to damage the climate. (Yes, I have a dear old conservative friend who is basically in that camp.)

  3. If one billion poor people need electricity right now — and they do! — then let’s get some fossil fuels going for them. Good oil. Good natural gas. Good coal too.

    Let those execs crank up lots of new fossil-fuel reserves to help folks, instead of scolding the execs for disobeying the GW religion.

    The Global Warming gang — including their salesman Francis — are doing NOTHING to shield poor people from the disastrous effects of fossil fuels being taken off their table by GW’s.

    Fossil fuels keep lights, heat, AC, mass transportation costs, trucking costs, and food prices down. The poor need fossil fuels.

    Besides, Global Warming is NOT settled science; it’s merely censorship science.

  4. Religion “must not destroy civilization.”

  5. The fact that climate change/global warming is occurring, is very much settled science, except for the hopelessly stupid.

    However, scientists are still learning and discovering different aspects of the phenomena.

  6. Not the hopelessly stupid, the willfully ignorant, or rather, those who are pretending to be in order to justify their selfish allegiance to fossil fuels for the sake of their own pocketbooks.

  7. Shane on you for a disingenuous use of poverty as an excuse when there are at least 3 billion people who live on less than $2.50 a day – those folks are more concerned about getting food on the table and having to deal with the reality of changing climate patterns – affecting their ability to simply survive.

  8. They are sure as h-ll not spending any time worrying about global warming.

  9. “Civilization requires energy, but energy must not destroy civilization” is newsworthy?

  10. Tell that to the people of Bangladesh, who are already being displaced by the tens of thousands by flooding — flooding that, in many cases, never subsides.

  11. I am quite certain that the thought “oh, if only the G-7 would cooperate on global warming so that a decade hence my progeny – should I not starve to death first – will enjoy the fruits of solar energy” rarely goes through their heads.

    I have to tell you straight away that we have had multiple events of warming and cooling – currently you can explore caves 200 feet below the surface of parts of the southern United States’ costs with wooly mammoth remains in them – over the last 100 to 150 thousand years.

    The climate change cult is a cult, not science.

  12. The ice ages and the intervening warm periods are created by Milankovitch cycles — eccentricities in the Earth’s orbit and axial tilt that change how much solar radiation the Earth absorbs. That is why you sometimes hear people talk about “the next ice age”: we’ve been in a warm period for the past 10,000 years or so, but the Milankovitch cycles guarantee that, millennia down the line, there will be another ice age. More recent and much smaller climatic variations, most famously the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age that followed it, were regional rather than global.

    Yet now glaciers at both poles and at high elevations are melting steadily. There is next to no permanent sea ice left in the Arctic, and Antarctic sea ice sheets are collapsing. The five hottest years since reliable global record-keeping began, more than a century ago, were all in the past decade. Record-breaking extreme weather events are constant, in every region of the world, and flooding is increasing on every coast. This is a global climate shift as dramatic as any change since the end of the last ice age. What is causing it?

    Leave aside for a moment the detailed analyses of the effects of carbon dioxide, and simply look at what has changed in the past few decades. The hundreds of billions of tons of carbon dioxide that humans dump into the atmosphere every year might be a candidate. Of course, that’s a tiny fraction of the overall volume of the atmosphere, but it’s enough to increase carbon dioxide levels from about 300 parts per million — the level at the start of the 20th century — to 400 and rising now. Changing a variable that affects the climate to more than 130% of its normal value seems a plausible cause for a shift, does it not? Then add in the enormous amount of data-gathering and analysis that have added far more detail to that conclusion, then you have a very viable hypothesis as to the cause of climate change.

    If you think this climate shift has some other cause, against the weight of all that evidence, develop a better hypothesis. Scientists funded by fossil-fuel industries have tried for 30 years to do just that, and yet they have failed. They can’t agree on an alternative hypothesis; all they can do is kick up dust and obfuscate.

  13. Almost everything your wrote, which amount to rationalizations of what you believed before you read them somewhere, have been debunked by various experts.

    The earth is getting warmer. It has done so before and the reasons are unknown.

    Please inflict your cult-like beliefs on someone who will take them seriously.

    I don’t.

  14. If you acknowledge that the Earth is warming but dispute the scientific consensus on the cause, PRODUCE AN ALTERNATIVE HYPOTHESIS. That is how science works.

  15. I have no interest in fabricating unprovable hypotheses.

    People who engage in that are wasting not only their time but everyone else’s and getting excitable people’s knickers in twists.

    As far as I am concerned, you’re in the same league as the folks who show up at my door with copies of the Watch Tower in their hands.

    The only thing being accomplished is facilitating a collection of politicians who are always looking for a new cause.

  16. So you believe that any hypothesis about the large-scale behavior of the climate is unprovable?

  17. The conversation ended.

    Take your cult elsewhere.

  18. Let’s just build nuclear power plants everywhere. Unlimited clean power. Everyone is happy.

  19. The smaller and safer they are, the more sense that might make.

  20. I’m with you. I never understand why Americans are so opposed.

  21. I love to hear guys like you shoot your mouth off; especially those that take advantage of the electricity and heat/air conditioning that big oil and big coal produce…
    What exactly is big oil? Is it the scientist searching for it? Is it the engineer trying to extract it safely? Is it the roughneck working the rigs? The truckers, pipeline layers, office workers, marketing people?
    Just remember that those greedy companies spend billions of dollars annually to allow people like you to keep drinking your Starbucks and driving your Smartcar each morning. They deserve to profit from their risks.

  22. Well, Chernobyl and Fukushima and Three Mile Island, I guess. But we could be building smaller and safer on a relative basis, or so I have heard.

  23. As I pointed out above, there hasn’t been a natural climate shift this dramatic since the end of the last ice age. The beginning and ending of ice ages is governed by natural wobbles in the Earth’s orbit and axial tilt (known as Milankovitch cycles), a mechanism that has been understood for a century. There is no significant change in the orbit and axial tilt lately. So what “natural cycle” are you referring to? What specifically is causing the change?

  24. To call climate change a cult is a personal opinion – not science. And because this has happened in the past makes it hunky dory when the best explanation to date as to cause is that is man-made. And if so, makes it morally significant because the impact will, and is, greatest on those least able to adapt to environmental changes. Scientists would agree that based on whet has occurred in the past that it is periods of rapid change that has the greatest impact.

    And actually indigenous peoples attended the Paris Accord talks because of the impacts they are experiencing. And having read the G&communique, I guess the wording clean air, clean water is code for solar energy.

  25. To call the climate change cult a cult is to be as accurate as I can possibly be.

    The support is always the same – a computer model and lots and lots of “scientists” believe it.

  26. Gee, every time this Pope says something sensible, forward-thinking, and inclusive, thousands of outraged Christians rush to declare that he didn’t really mean it and should be ignored. This is what Christianity has come to, folks.

  27. “The Two Universal Sects

    They all err—Moslems, Jews,
    Christians, and Zoroastrians:

    Humanity follows two world-wide sects:
    One, man intelligent without religion,

    The second, religious without intellect. ”

    , born AD 973 /, died AD 1058 / .

    Al-Ma’arri was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer.[1][2] He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion and rejecting the claim that Islam possessed any monopoly on truth.”

  28. “While Francis lauded the oil executives for embedding an assessment of climate change risks into their planning strategies, he also put them on notice for their “continued search for fossil fuel reserves,” 2½ years after the Paris climate accord “clearly urged keeping most fossil fuels underground.”

    It’s strange that this “infallible” pope prefers trying to tell oil executives how to run their business, rather than staying busy finding ways to renew his large, worldwide institution that’s still living in the Dark Ages. There’s also the big issue of adequately compensating those people all around the world who are still suffering from the pedophilia visited upon them by Roman Catholic priests in the past, and no-doubt, yet today.

    I guess there are no big spotlights and media releases associated with these seemingly-mundane, yet very necessary moves for this spotlight-and-headline-seeking pope. He has become pretty much like the average celebrity today, who’s trying to stay in the public’s eye as proof that they’re still significant.

  29. Dane Wiggington over at geoengineering watch has some fascinating research regarding the climate. Must hear weekly show. geoengineeringwatch dot org

  30. Getting food on the table is directly tied to fuel costs, transportation costs. Absolutely true for American poor people, Linda. Check it out sometime.

  31. I don’t recall anything about folks blaming the cause of the fires on climate change/global warming. I remember folks sharing that those and future fires could be more frequent and more severe. Just as present and future storms are expected to be more frequent and severe.

    Apples & oranges when deniers are allowed to state what others have said or believe. Move along little floydlee.

  32. Computer models are based on observed data over an extended period of time and looked at in terms of predictability.accuracy/vallidity of trends and incorporates new data You can choose to disregard the data, dis the computer modelling. And the broad level of support does not meet the criteria for any definition of a cult.

  33. I am very familiar with computer models.

    I also understand what their limitations are.

    Yes, a cult can have a broad level of support, as this one does.

    It has all the earmarks of a cult – an arcane belief system, references to faith in experts or prophets, an inability to actually demonstrate the veracity of its claims, the instillation of fear by threats of damnation and punishment if its beliefs are not adhered to and acted on.

  34. ‘In other words, even if we accept the fact of scientific consensus, how do we know that this consensus is not
    wrong? This chapter addresses this question by examining a set of criteria that philosophers have traditionally or recently identified as possible bases for trust in scientific conclusions, and shows that climate science meets all of these criteria. Thus, while there is no way to know for sure that scientists are correct in their conclusions, the various means we have to test and evaluate scientific claims lead to the conclusion that, so far as we are able to tell, it is most likely that scientists are not wrong about the reality of anthropogenic climate change.’ https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-65058-6_2

  35. The very fact that this article was written tells you how desperate the climate control cultists are.

    The author, Naomi Oreskes, has made her late career peddling these wares:


    A couple of years ago she came a bit of a cropper.

    In an opinion piece in “The Guardian” – “There is a New Form of Climate Denialism to Look Out For – So Don’t Celebrate Yet” – she said scientists who call for a continued use of nuclear energy are renewable-energy “deniers” and “myth” makers.

    She cited an article by four prominent climate scientists saying nuclear power must be used to combat climate change. A prominent scientist wrote a piece in the “New Yorker” arging that her branding these four scientists”climate deniers” was absurd – they were among those who had done the most to push people to combat climate change.

    So the cult now has its own heretics.

  36. “It has all the earmarks of a cult – an arcane belief system, references to faith in experts or prophets, an inability to actually demonstrate the veracity of its claims, the instillation of fear by threats of damnation and punishment if its beliefs are not adhered to and acted on.”

    You are, of course, describing the Catholic Church.

  37. Hmm. Looks like that article took you by surprise, yes?

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