Pope Francis to attend Cop28 climate conference in Dubai in a first for a pontiff

Francis has been vocal about climate issues in recent years

Stuti Mishra
Thursday 02 November 2023 12:51 GMT
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Pope Francis has said he will attend the Cop28 summit in Dubai next month, the first time a pontiff will be at the United Nations climate summit.

Francis will depart for Dubai on 1 December and stay for three, he told Italian television network RAI on Wednesday.

He did not offer any details of his programme but his presence at the crucial meeting, where world leaders will gather to find ways to tackle the worsening climate crisis, will mark the first time a pontiff is present at a UN climate summit.

In recent years, Francis has been vocal about climate issues and has criticised the governments for not doing enough to protect the most vulnerable people.

Last month, he called out the “conflict of interest” of the United Arab Emirates as this year’s climate summit host in the strongest-ever statement released by the Vatican on the climate crisis.

Francis wrote “although it (UAE) has made significant investments in renewable energy sources”, the country is “known as a great exporter of fossil fuels”.

He expressed worry that “gas and oil companies are planning new projects there, with the aim of further increasing their production”.

He also called out the Western world, including the United States, for their lack of substantial action on the climate crisis.

His travel to Dubai comes about two weeks before his 87th birthday.

When asked about his health — after setbacks that included abdominal surgery just a few months ago to repair a hernia and remove intestinal scarring — Francis quipped in reply in what has become his standard line — “I'm alive.”

The international climate conference begins on 30 November and runs through 12 December.

The Dubai edition is the latest in a series of Conference Of Parties (COP) meetings on the impact of the climate crisis and on measures by governments to deal with it. The conference comes after the world has experienced record-breaking temperatures this year.

Additional reporting by agencies

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