Calling climate change “a challenge of epochal proportions,” Pope Francis met with executives from major oil and gas companies at a two-day conference at the Vatican. Representatives from ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Norway’s Equinor and Pemex of Mexico as well as scientists and managers of major investment funds were in attendance.

Modern society with its “massive movement of information, persons and things requires an immense supply of energy,” he said. “But that energy should also be clean, by a reduction in the systematic use of fossil fuels…Our desire to ensure energy for all must not lead to the undesired effect of a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments and increased levels of poverty.” He emphasized that the world’s energy needs “must not destroy civilization,” and lauded oil executives for embedding an assessment of climate change risks into their planning strategies. He cited the “immense opportunity” to diversify energy sources and promote “the sustainable development of renewable forms of energy.”

There is “no time to lose” he said.