Pope Francis could take part in the international climate conference to be held in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, Reuters reported on October 19, 2023. There he will voice his call to halt the climate catastrophe, a call he recently renewed in the apostolic exhortation Laudate Deum, published at the beginning of October.
No final decision yet
Francis wants to go to Dubai, the Pope’s secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin told Reuters on the sidelines of an event in Rome on Wednesday. The Holy See’s “number 2” added that the pope had not yet made a final decision.
On October 11, Pope Francis received Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, President of COP 28, in an audience at the Vatican.
According to sources I.Media consulted, this trip to the United Arab Emirates is still under consideration. American media outlet The Pillar also reported that the Vatican had cancelled a papal audience scheduled for November 30 with the organizers of the World Youth Day in Lisbon due to an “‘unscheduled’ papal trip.”
This would be the first time that a pope has attended a United Nations conference on climate change. In October 2021, the Scottish bishops had announced that the Argentine pope would attend COP 26 in Glasgow, but this trip ultimately did not take place. In 2015, the drafting of the encyclical Laudato si’ on “safeguarding the common home” was accelerated so that it could be published ahead of COP 21 in Paris.
A “turning point” in the fight against global warming?
On October 4, Pope Francis published an update of this encyclical on ecology in an apostolic exhortation titled Laudate Deum — “Praise God.” In it, he dedicates an entire chapter to the forthcoming climate conference, with the title, “What to expect from COP 28 in Dubai?”
In this chapter, the Pontiff says he hopes for “a turning point” next December. He sets high objectives for the summit: the establishment of “binding forms of energy transition.” These must be “efficient, obligatory, and easily monitored.”
“Only in this concrete manner will it be possible to reduce significantly carbon dioxide levels and to prevent even greater evils over time,” he warns, arguing that such measures would restore the “credibility” of “international politics.”
If it becomes a reality, this trip to Dubai will be Pope Francis’ second visit to the United Arab Emirates. The soon-to-be 87-year-old Pontiff visited the capital Abu Dhabi in February 2019 to sign the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb.