WelCom November 2023
Pope Francis will take part in the United Nations’s international climate summit in Dubai, known as COP28, which begins on 30 November.
COP28 is being held in the United Arab Emirate’s largest city, from 30 November to 12 December. The Pope’s attendance follows an 11 October meeting at the Vatican between His Holiness Pope Francis and the Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, the UAE minister of industry and advanced technology and the UN climate conference’s President-designate.
Dr Al Jaber met Pope Francis to discuss the crucial role of faith leaders in advancing the climate agenda at COP28. During the meeting, Dr Al Jaber expressed gratitude to the Vatican for its climate action advocacy and invited Pope Francis to participate in the World Climate Action Summit at COP28.
The Pope is expected to travel to Dubai at the very start of the summit and will formally address the delegates.
The Pope and the 50-year-old sultan, who is also the managing director and group CEO of Abu Dhabi’s national oil company, spoke in particular of the need for a ‘detailed action plan’ to implement the Paris Agreement. With that 2015 international treaty, the parties pledged to keep ‘the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels’ and to continue efforts ‘to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels’. The mechanism was weakened in 2017 when Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement.
The presence of a pope at a UN climate summit will be a first. Pope Francis almost went to Glasgow (Scotland) to attend COP26 in November 2021. Despite very advanced preparations for the trip, he cancelled at the last moment when it became apparent the summit would not be a success. It is believed the Pope preferred to back out, rather than risk appearing as a guarantor brandished by the organisers to hide poor results.
This time, however, given the urgency of the situation, Pope Francis seems to have overcome such fears. The man that some have dubbed ‘the green pope’ felt the same sense of urgency in 2015 when he speeded up the publication of his ecological and social encyclical, Laudato si’, so that it could be made public before the Paris summit.
Eight years later, the Pope made a similar calculation when – on 4 October, 2023 – he signed a new text on the climate crisis, Laudate Deum. In this apostolic exhortation, he pleads for a binding agreement, speaking out forcefully against climate sceptics and urging world leaders to act.
Sources: La Croix International; Gulf Business
See Pope pulls no punches in Laudate Deum
Global summit for faith leaders
The COP28 Presidency has collaborated with the Vatican, the Muslim Council of Elders, and the UN Environment Programme to ensure inclusivity in the COP process by integrating faith organisations into climate discussions. The Presidency has designed a series of inter-faith initiatives in the run up to and during the COP28 conference. One of these will be a global summit for faith leaders, ‘the Confluence of Conscience’, on 6–7 November in Abu Dhabi.
It will unite hundreds of religious leaders, academics and scientists to collectively address the findings of the Global Stocktake (an ‘inventory’ by countries and stakeholders on their progress towards meeting the Paris Agreement) and sign a declaration to progress climate action at COP28.
The gathering will discuss the ethical responsibilities of faith leaders in addressing the climate crisis and will call for increased ambition at COP28 and beyond.
Additionally, the COP28 Presidency will co-host the Faith Pavilion at COP28, marking the first-ever pavilion of its kind at a COP event.
The Faith Pavilion will host panels with religious leaders, scientists, and political leaders, as well as encourage intergenerational dialogue involving young faith leaders and indigenous representatives.
During their meeting in Rome, Dr Al Jaber and Pope Francis also discussed aligning Laudate Deum with the COP28 Interfaith Declaration, set to be signed after the global faith leaders’ summit.