Pope Francis has declared his intention to attend the upcoming COP28 international climate change conference in Dubai, marking the first time a Pope will participate in a Conference of Parties (COP) meeting since its inception in 1995.
The Pope, speaking on Italian television, revealed his plan to stay at the conference for three days, making this a remarkable moment for the Vatican and the global climate movement.
Catholic commentator Austen Ivereigh described the Pope’s decision as a “very significant move.” He noted that while the Pope is, in fact, the head of a small state (the Vatican City), he typically sends the Cardinal Secretary of State as his representative to such international gatherings. Therefore, the Pope’s personal attendance at COP28 holds great significance, signaling his determination to make a difference on climate change.
Ivereigh emphasized the Pope’s commitment to environmental issues, stating, “The fact that he’s choosing to be there – and one presumes, although they haven’t yet announced this – that he will give a speech there, and will hope to influence events, is a very significant move by a pope who has made ecology and climate change absolutely central to the pontificate.” This underscores the Vatican’s dedication to addressing climate change and promoting ecological responsibility as part of its mission in the modern world.
Last month, Pope Francis published “Laudate Deum,” a follow-up to his groundbreaking 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si.” The document serves as a powerful call to action for world leaders, urging them to take meaningful steps to combat climate change. Ivereigh described “Laudate Deum” as “a powerful clarion call to world leaders to say, we’ve got to act and a very powerful critique of the COP annual meetings.” The Pope’s message in the document conveys his frustration with the slow progress of politicians in addressing the climate crisis.
However, despite his disappointment with political leaders, Pope Francis remains hopeful and places his trust in the people to pressure politicians into action. Ivereigh stated, “But he’s hurt. He has his hope in the people of God, putting pressure on those politicians. And he’s going to say, ‘We’ve got to make this work.'” This faith in the collective power of individuals to drive change is a central theme in the Pope’s advocacy for addressing climate change.
The COP28 conference is scheduled to take place from November 30th to December 12th. Pope Francis is expected to attend from the 1st to the 3rd of December, where he will likely deliver a speech addressing the urgent need for action on climate change. His presence at the conference underscores the Vatican’s commitment to raising awareness and advocating for environmental responsibility on a global scale.
Pope Francis’s decision to attend COP28 in Dubai is a momentous step in the fight against climate change. His personal involvement in the conference, along with the publication of “Laudate Deum,” demonstrates the Pope’s unwavering commitment to addressing the global climate crisis.
As the first Pope to participate in a COP meeting, his presence serves as a powerful symbol of the Vatican’s dedication to promoting a sustainable and ecologically responsible future. With the conference set to begin at the end of November, the world awaits the Pope’s message and the impact it may have on the global climate change agenda.