Pope Francis has confirmed that he intends to travel to Dubai for the COP28 climate conference in early December.
“I believe I depart on the first [of December] and stay until the third. I’ll be there three days,” he told the Italian state broadcaster RAI on Wednesday.
Francis did not provide further details on the schedule of the trip, which had been rumoured but is yet to be formally announced by the Vatican.
The Pope met the president-designate of COP28, Sultan Al Jaber, at the Vatican in mid-October. The climate change summit will take place at the Expo City Dubai from 30 November to 12 December.
The United Nations’ annual climate change conference, known as the “Conference of the Parties” (COP), includes governments that have signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol or the Paris Agreement.
The summit, held in a different country every year, is an opportunity for world leaders, representing state and non-state actors, to meet and discuss policy goals that seek to establish common – and often ambitious – goals for climate change mitigation.
It will be Pope Francis’ second visit to the United Arab Emirates. In February 2019, he visited the UAE capital Abu Dhabi to promote interreligious dialogue and support the small Christian minority, making him the first Pope to ever visit the Arabian peninsula.
During the three-day trip, he signed the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb.
Climate issues and the environment have also been a priority of Pope Francis’ pontificate.
On 4 October, he released his second major document on the topic, the apostolic exhortation Laudate Deum (“Praise God”), in which he warned of “grave consequences” if humanity continues to ignore the threat of climate change.
In his interview with RAI, Pope Francis recalled how he had decided to write his first document on the topic, the 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, ahead of the COP21 summit in Paris.
“The Paris meeting was the best meeting of all,” he said, because “after Paris everyone went backwards and it takes courage to move forward in this.”