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Vatican to convert its car fleet to electric vehicles

Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's square

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media - published on 11/18/23

By partnering with Volkswagen, the Vatican aims to have only electric vehicles by 2030 so as to have a carbon neutral fleet.

The Vatican City State intends “to make its car fleet carbon neutral by 2030” by replacing all its vehicles with electric ones, it announced in a press release on November 15, 2023. To this end, the world’s smallest state has signed an agreement with the German brand Volkswagen and its Czech subsidiary Škoda.

“The Vatican City State has been committed for many years to promoting sustainable development through ecological policies to safeguard the environment and provide strategies for saving energy,” the press release explains. “For this reason, the Governorate [of the Vatican City State] has initiated a sustainable mobility development program called “Ecological Conversion 2030” also designed to reduce the CO2 footprint of its vehicle fleet.”

Adhering to the UN goals

Stating its intention to implement the principles set out in Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si‘ (2015) and his apostolic exhortation Laudate Deum (2023), the Vatican City State presents itself as “among the first states in the world to pursue sustainability projects by seeking innovative and sustainable solutions.”

This announcement comes a few weeks before Pope Francis is due to go to Dubai to attend the United Nations’ Climate Conference, COP28, a first for a Pontiff. On July 6, 2022, the Vatican officially joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The State has been committed to achieving “climate neutrality” by implementing a range of measures, including energy saving and waste reduction.

The “Ecological Conversion 2030” plan for the Vatican

It is thus in this line that the Vatican has created the “Ecological Conversion 2030” program, which has three components.

The first aims to progressively replace Vatican City State cars with electric vehicles, in order “to make its fleet carbon neutral by 2030.” The second is to set up a “charging network” on the Vatican’s territory and in the extraterritorial areas managed by the Holy See. Finally, the energy used will have to “come exclusively from renewable energy sources.”

In the press release the world’s smallest state announced that it had signed a partnership agreement with the Volkswagen group to set up a medium- and long-term leasing contract for Volkswagen and Škoda vehicles. A press release on Volkswagen’s website says they will deliver to the Vatican almost 40 electric vehicles from their ID line at the beginning of 2024. The State had already inaugurated 12 charging points for electric vehicles in partnership with Italian giant ENEL in 2019.

In addition to the several popemobiles, such as the Volkswagen Phaeton and a hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai, Pope Francis travels in a variety of vehicles, including a white Fiat 500L. Since his election, he has also been seen aboard a Fiat Panda, two Smart ForFours and a blue Ford Focus. His predecessor, Benedict XVI, used to travel in a Volkswagen Golf.

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