Pope Francis on Friday declared a global “climate emergency”, warning of the dangers of global heating and that a failure to act urgently to reduce greenhouse gases would be “a brutal act of injustice toward the poor and future generations”.
The Pope’s impassioned plea came as he met the leaders of some of the world’s biggest multinational oil companies in the Vatican to impress upon them the urgency and scale of the challenge, and their central role in tackling the emissions crisis.
It followed a similar meeting last year, but this time the Pope’s stance was tougher as he warned that time was running out and urged them to hear “the increasingly desperate cries of the earth and its poor”.
He also endorsed the 1.5C limit on temperature rises that some countries are now aiming for, referring to warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of “catastrophic” effects if we crossed such a threshold.
The Pope also said a “radical energy transition” would be needed to stay within that limit, and urged young people and businesses to take a leading role.
“Future generations stand to inherit a greatly spoiled world. Our children and grandchildren should not have to pay the cost of our generation’s irresponsibility,” he said, in his strongest and most direct intervention yet on the climate crisis.
The meeting was attended by chief executives of major international oil companies such as British Petroleum,BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, Total, ConocoPhilips, Chevron and several major investors including BlackRock and Hermes.