“I invite you to be a group of leaders who imagine the global energy transition in a world that takes into account all the poles of the Earth, as well as future generations, and all species and ecosystems.” With these words, Pope Francis appealed to the participants in the Symposium for Managers of the Main Companies of the Oil Sector, Natural Gas and other entrepreneurial activities related to the energy that took place in recent days.
From 8 to 9 June fifty of them had gathered (behind closed doors) in the Vatican, to talk about “Energy transition and care for the common home“. A meeting promoted by the Dicastery for the service of integral human development and organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Notre Dame University (Energy Transition and Care for our Common Home). The initiative is part of a broader program wanted by the Holy See, which also includes meetings with the leaders of the mining sector, but also a special focus on the energy theme that should come out also at the next Special Synod for the Pan-Amazon Region, and that Pope Francis mentioned during his last trip to Latin America.
Same thing did Al Gore, former White House candidate (few years ago) famous for his commitment to environmental policies after the success of his documentary An Inconvenient Truth, “An Inconvenient Truth“. In Berlin, Gore gave a speech organized by Climate Reality Project, in which he focused on the commitment of Pope Francis for the defense of the environment, started with the statements of the pontiff in the Encyclical Laudato si.
The truth is that, despite the Pope’s invitations, those of Al Gore and the battles conducted by dozens of organizations and associations for the protection of the environment throughout the world, the situation of environment has not improved. CO2 emissions have increased (despite the 2015 COP 21 agreements in Paris). Even today, over a billion people do not have electricity. Every day, thousands of children die because of the quality of the water they drink (or water-related diseases). Pope Francis used words most of them repeated: “clean energy”, “energy for all”, “respect for the environment”.
In front of him were the representatives of some of the companies responsible for the world’s major oil extractions (and related environmental damage): from Exxon Mobil, to Eni, from BP to Royal Dutch Shell, from Pemex to Equinor, accompanied by some of the largest investment companies in the world (such as BlackRock). All hearing (but certainly not following) the invitation of the head of the Vatican to abandon the technology based on fossil fuels, very polluting – especially coal, but also oil and gas, in favor of renewable energy.
They are responsible for the state of the environment. And because of their choices the planet is at risk. Now. Not tomorrow or in a future to come. Today the consequences of not doing anything in the past decades are evident. Words such as “epochal challenge”, “great opportunity” have been repeated so many times in the speeches of the rulers of the day or the authorities to be inflated and also the invitation to “eliminate poverty and hunger as required by the Sustainable Development Goals” of the United Nations, the billion and more people who do not have electricity today must be able to have it accessible “is now not credible: it is no coincidence that these objectives were created after it was clear the failure of the Millennium Goals created and signed from all the countries of the world on the eve of the new millennium.
As Pope Francis repeated “the poor will suffer most from the ravages of global warming, with the growing disturbances in the agricultural sector, the insecurity of water availability and exposure to severe weather events. . Many of those who can hardly afford it are already forced to leave their homes and migrate to other places, without knowing how they will be welcomed “. “Air and water do not follow different laws depending on the countries they pass through; the polluting substances do not adopt different behaviors according to the latitudes, but they have univocal rules. Environmental and energy problems now have an impact and a global dimension. This is why they require global answers, look with patience and dialogue and pursue with rationality and constancy “.
The fact is (but this the pope has not said) that the problems of poor countries and the most destitute sections of the population have no bearing on the choices of oil and gas companies. Just as they have no importance for the interests (in every sense) of the large financial groups that finance these companies. But this, Pope Francis did not tell the representatives of the oil multinationals who have heard (but not listened) his speech.