17 November 2023, The Tablet

Francis to address COP28 delegates in Dubai

Laudate Deum called the climate crisis “one of the principal challenges facing society and the global community”.

Francis to address COP28 delegates in Dubai

Pope Francis greets a toddler in St Peter’s Square on 15 November.
Vatican Media / CNA

Pope Francis will address COP28 delegates in Dubai on 2 December, the Vatican confirmed last week.

The Pope asked for prayers last Sunday “for the Dubai Climate Change Conference, COP28, which is now close at hand”. He will travel to the United Arab Emirates on 1-3 December, to meet world leaders and to launch a pavilion for faith-based engagement at the summit.

It will be the first time that a pope has attended the UN’s annual Conference of Parties (COP) meeting.  The apostolic exhortation Laudate Deum published last month called the climate crisis, “one of the principal challenges facing society and the global community”.

COP28 will bring together world leaders in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December to find common policies to limit the rise in global temperature and mitigate the impacts of climate change. 

The conference includes governments that have signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, or the Paris Agreement, and their implementation of past agreements will be scrutinised at COP28.

Pope Francis has said that he decided to write his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ ahead of the COP21 summit in Paris.

Last weekend, the Pope marked the second anniversary of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform which promotes care for the environment throughout the global Church. “I thank those who have joined in this initiative and encourage them to continue on the path of ecological conversion,” he said.

The COP28 presidency has received an “Abu Dhabi Interfaith Statement for COP28” from participants at the recent Global Faith Leaders’ Summit in Abu Dhabi, calling for “transformative action to keep 1.5°C within reach and serve affected and vulnerable communities”.

The Statement called for “inclusive dialogue, during and beyond COPs, with faith leaders, vulnerable groups, youth, women’s organisations, and the scientific community to forge alliances that strengthen sustainable development”.

Signatories included Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state representing Pope Francis, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

Bishops’ conferences and Caritas agencies globally have called for urgent and effective action on climate change, including an energy transition. There will be a public Global Day of Action on Climate on 9 December, during COP28.

Last week, however, the president of the Congolese Bishops’ Conference suggested that, “the so-called ‘energy transition’ is causing enormous environmental damage” in DR Congo.

Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa of Kisangani said the country “has all kinds of minerals, especially strategic minerals, including coltan, used to make cell phones and strategic devices like satellites, and cobalt, which is used to build batteries for electric vehicles”.  

He added that, “unfortunately, all this wealth stimulates the greed of many people on a national, international and global level”.

The archbishop reported that the extraction of these minerals is often carried out illegally, in breach of bilateral and multilateral rules.

“Multinational corporations and their accomplices are doing everything they can to exploit our country at the lowest cost,” he said, so that “the Congolese population does not benefit and indeed are victims of conflict caused by those seeking to control natural resources.”

He described environmental damage, including land “riddled with large wounds” by cobalt mining and the discharge of waste from illegal mines into watercourses, polluting clean water sources for local communities.

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