Pope Francis Urges Rapid Transition to Clean Energy
Photo by IISD/ENB | Angeles Estrada
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Pope Francis called for “an adequate energy mix” to fight pollution, eliminate poverty and promote social equality.

He urged for developing a long-term strategy to ensure energy security.

Noting the interconnectedness of challenges faced, Pope Francis said that energy access, while necessary to eliminate poverty and hunger, should also be clean and not exacerbate climate change.

11 June 2018: Pope Francis has called on oil executives and energy leaders to switch to clean energy to fend off “disastrous” climate change. Addressing a conference on energy transition, he said that the continued search for new fossil fuel reserves is even more worrying than the increased levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere.

According to a UN Climate Change news article, around 80% of fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal to keep the global average temperature rise to well below 2°C above preindustrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.

Pope Francis urged the oil executives, investors and other stakeholders attending the conference to engage in dialogue on the transition to clean energy, and developing a long-term strategy to provide energy security. He called for undertaking efforts to use efficient energy sources, while ensuring greater energy access by “less developed” countries, diversifying energy sources and promoting the sustainable development of renewable energy sources.

Around 80% of fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Pope Francis noted the interconnectedness of challenges faced, and, alluding to SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), said that energy access, while necessary to eliminate poverty and hunger (SDGs 1 and 2, respectively), should also be clean and not exacerbate climate change (SDG 13). Therefore, he called for “an adequate energy mix” to fight pollution, eliminate poverty and promote social equality (SDG 10).

He also called for fiscal and economic measures, transfer of technological capacity, and regional and international cooperation in such areas as access to information.

He commended oil and gas companies for steps taken thus far to assess climate risk and adjust their business practices accordingly, and investors for considering environmental and sustainability questions in their investment strategies.

Pope Francis said that decisions by governments and businesses must be guided by the pursuit of the “long-term common good and concrete solidarity between generations.” Cautioning against unlimited faith in markets and technology, he called for bold, new leadership, and highlighted renewing “our relationship with nature” as a prerequisite for “renewing our relationship with humanity.”

Pope Francis delivered his address to a closed-door conference themed, ‘Energy Transition and Care for our Common Home.’ Held at the Vatican from 8-9 June 2018, the event was organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in collaboration with Notre Dame University, US. [Pope Francis’s Address] [UNFCCC News Article] [Vatican News Press Release]

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