The pope has once again emphasized the importance of pursuing renewable energy, telling oil company executives in an address this week that ignoring the issue could have a cataclysmic impact on humanity.
As Reuters reported, Pope Francis spoke on Saturday during a private conference held at the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences. During the speech, he described climate change as a challenge of “epochal proportions,” urging leaders to embrace clean energy in an effort to reverse the damage of pollution.
In addition to executives from leading oil firms from around the world, the roughly 50 attendees included industry investors and officials from the Vatican who are sympathetic to the pope’s belief in anthropogenic climate change.
“Civilization requires energy but energy must not destroy civilization,” the pontiff said.
Not only will a refocus on renewable energy help protect the environment, but the right policies will also address humanitarian issues including hunger and poverty.
“We know that the challenges facing us are interconnected,” he said. “If we are to eliminate poverty and hunger … the more than one billion people without electricity today need to gain access to it.”
According to Pope Francis, the only way to meet these goals is with a widespread shift to clean energy in the near term.
He said that the mission of providing worldwide access to power “must not lead to the undesired effect of a spiral of extreme climate change due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments and increased levels of poverty.”
Prosperous nations should be working now to pave the way for clean, renewable and global energy sources, he said.
Pope Francis called the pursuit of such options “a duty that we owe towards millions of our brothers and sisters around the world, poorer countries and generations yet to come.”
He said success will require a long-term and multilateral commitment.
“Environmental and energy problems now have a global impact and extent,” he said.
Saturday’s address marked the pope’s latest public statement on the issue of climate change, the most notable being “Laudato Si,” his 2015 encyclical letter warning that “our Sister, Mother Earth” is suffering because of human actions.
Lord, reawaken in us a sense of praise and gratitude for our Earth, and for everything you have created.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) June 5, 2018
“This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her,” he wrote. “We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life.”
He also cited statements by his predecessors for encouraging good stewardship of natural resources.
“Saint John Paul II became increasingly concerned about this issue,” Pope Francis wrote. “In his first Encyclical, he warned that human beings frequently seem ‘to see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption.'”
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