Pope Francis to address Cop28 summit in Dubai

Pontiff is scheduled to have a full day of private bilateral meetings with heads of state

Pope Francis will address heads of state and world leaders at Cop28. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Pope Francis will address delegates at Cop28 on the first day of the World Climate Action Summit.

The pontiff will arrive at Al Maktoum International Airport on Friday, December 1, where he will receive an official welcome, according to the agenda released by the Vatican.

The following day, Pope Francis will address heads of state and world leaders at Cop28. The two-day World Climate Action Summit is where concrete actions and plans are discussed. It tends to be a platform for major announcements and typically provides momentum and guidance to the remainder of the Cop.

Following his speech at Expo City Dubai, the pontiff is scheduled to have a full day of private bilateral meetings with heads of state.

On Sunday, Pope Francis will inaugurate the 'Faith Pavilion' at Expo City at 9am.

It is not clear if members of the public will be able to attend the event.

The pavilion is within the Cop28 venue's blue zone, which is off limits to the public. It is where negotiations will be held during the climate talks, and is also the site of country pavilions, presidency events, and hundreds of side events.

The pavilion is co-hosted by the Muslim Council of Elders, the UN Environment Programme Cop28 Presidency, the Holy See and a coalition of faith partners. It will be a hub for faith communities to share information and strategies aimed at persuading governments to take more decisive climate action.

“Inclusion is the foundation of the Cop28 Presidency,” Majid Al Suwaidi, director general of Cop28, said in September.

“Faith-based communities and organisations play a crucial role in helping the world address climate change. To highlight this, Cop28 will be the first Cop to host a pavilion dedicated to the engagement of faith communities.

“Our goal is to provide a global stage for fostering religious engagement and interfaith dialogue with the aim of inspiring ambitious goals and concrete actions to address the climate crisis.”

At 10.15am, there will be a farewell ceremony for the Holy Father at Al Maktoum International Airport before his departure at 10.45am.

Pope Francis announced last Thursday that he would be travelling to Dubai for the summit. He has made the need for urgent care for the environment a hallmark priority of his papacy.

"We are still in time to stop it," Pope Francis said, speaking of global warming.

"Our future is at stake, the future of our children and our grandchildren. A bit of responsibility is needed."

Last month, he urged participants in the Cop28 talks to agree to binding policies to phase out fossil fuels and said the world's transition to clean, renewable energy was not progressing fast enough.

He said the talks presented an opportunity for "a change of direction”, with real commitments to moving to clean energy sources such as wind and solar.

“The world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point,” he said.

“It is indubitable that the impact of climate change will increasingly prejudice the lives and families of many persons.”

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President-designate and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, met Pope Francis at the Vatican in October.

They discussed the crucial role of faith leaders in advancing the climate agenda.

Dr Al Jaber thanked the Vatican for its climate action advocacy and invited Pope Francis to participate in the World Climate Action Summit at Cop28.

Britain's King Charles III will address world leaders at Cop28's opening ceremony on December 1 and will “take the opportunity to have meetings with regional leaders”, a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

The king, who is widely known for his environmental activism, was invited to Cop28 by President Sheikh Mohamed.

World leaders will meet in Dubai from November 30 to December 12 to tackle the escalating climate emergency. Temperatures across the world have reached record highs this year, with extreme weather events becoming commonplace.

The UN has repeatedly warned the world is off track in meeting the goals of the Paris accord, at which countries agreed to “pursue efforts” to keep warming to 1.5ºC on pre-industrial levels.

Updated: November 10, 2023, 7:49 AM