Fossil-Fuel Producers Tell Pope: Yes, But You Still Need Us

Producers of coal, oil and natural gas responded to the pope’s encyclical on climate change by saying you may not like us, but you need us.

More than a billion people worldwide are living without electricity and “coal is a critical input for meeting those needs,” Betsy B. Monseu, chief executive officer of the American Coal Council, said in an e-mailed statement Thursday. “Consideration of human betterment goes hand-in-hand with healthy economies.”

The spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics around the world made his plea for the planet, and for the world’s poorest people, in a 181-page letter to bishops Thursday. Companies and industry groups said the fuels they produce are needed to supply rising global demand for energy.

“Pope Francis has highlighted the huge challenge we face in reducing global CO2 emissions,” Benjamin Sporton, CEO of the London-based World Coal Council, said in a statement Thursday. “All low-emission technologies are therefore needed, including 21st century coal technology, high-efficiency low-emissions power generation and carbon capture, use and storage.”

Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest U.S. oil company said it’s reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its operations and supporting research on the issue.

Carbon Tax

“Exxon Mobil’s position is that the risk of climate change is serious and warrants action,” said Alan Jeffers, a spokesman for the Irving, Texas-based company. “We support a revenue-neutral carbon tax as the most efficient and effective way for governments to put a price on carbon.”

The encyclical is an attempt to pressure world leaders before a December United Nations summit in Paris, where more than 190 nations are seeking to craft a global pact on carbon emissions.

“Use of natural gas, particularly in power generation can help make great strides globally not just in reduction of carbon emissions, but also emissions of hazardous air pollutants,” Daniel Whitten, a spokesman for America’s Natural Gas Alliance, said in an e-mail.

For more, read this QuickTake: Climate Change

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE