Pope Francis has told oil executives the world should convert to renewable fuels, calling the continued search for fossil fuels “worrying”.
The pope addressed leaders of some of the world’s major energy companies on Saturday, at a closed-doors climate change conference in the Vatican.
“Civilisation requires energy but energy use must not destroy civilisation,” he told the group.
Pope Francis has long shown a special interest in combating climate change, which he called a challenge of “epochal proportions” on Saturday.
In 2015, he devoted his second encyclical on calling for policies to reduce emissions of polluting gases.
Before the two-day conference, titled Energy Transition and Care for Our Common Home, a Vatican source told Reuters news agency that the heads or senior executives of companies including ExxonMobil, Eni, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Equinor (formerly known as Statoil) and Pemex were expected to attend along with investors.
“We know that the challenges facing us are interconnected. If we are to eliminate poverty and hunger … the more than one billion people without electricity today need to gain access to it,” the pope told them.
“But that energy should also be clean, by a reduction in the systematic use of fossil fuels. 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.”
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said that global energy demand rise will grow 30 percent by 2040.
In 2015, 18 percent of global final energy consumption came from renewable sources according to the agency.