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Pope Francis tells oil executives to take care of environment

By Susan McFarland
Pope Francis, at a Vatican conference on Saturday, charged world oil leaders and investors to help stop climate change by taking care of the environment. Photo by Guiseppe Lami/EPA
Pope Francis, at a Vatican conference on Saturday, charged world oil leaders and investors to help stop climate change by taking care of the environment. Photo by Guiseppe Lami/EPA

June 9 (UPI) -- At a Vatican conference, Pope Francis charged world oil leaders and investors to help stop climate change by taking care of the environment.

Some of the world's biggest oil titans met with the Pope for a closed-door conference Saturday.

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The Pope commended efforts made by oil and gas companies as they face pressure to transition to other forms of energy.

"Progress has indeed been made. But is it enough? Will we turn the corner in time? No one can answer that with certainty, but with each month that passes, the challenge of energy transition becomes more pressing," Francis said. "There is no time to lose. We received the earth as a garden-home from the Creator; let us not pass it on to future generations as a wilderness."

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Francis also warned against the "continued search" for fossil fuels, reiterating that civilization requires energy but that comes at a price.

"Energy use must not destroy civilization," he said.

Francis' desire for environmental protection is one reason he took the name of St. Francis of Assisi -- because of the medieval saint's love for the nature.

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Pope said those who will suffer the most from the ravages of global warning are the poor, through water shortages and extreme weather events.

The conference, attended by top executives from Exxon Mobil Corp., BP PLC and BlackRock Inc., included discussions by energy officials who laid out plans to support to reduce emissions, such as a tax on carbon emissions. Many companies also are investing in renewable energy or potential technological breakthroughs.

Also in attendance were Japanese, American, British, French and Norwegian investors.

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The Pope's meeting with the oil executives comes three years after he published his encyclical Laudato Si', in which he said global warming is a major threat to life on Earth and it is mainly caused by human activity.

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