Pope Francis to travel to Dubai during Cop28 conference

Argentine pontiff is known for making environmental care a hallmark priority of his papacy

Pope Francis waves from a window overlooking Saint Peter's Square during the Angelus prayer on November 1. EPA / Vatican Media
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Pope Francis will travel to Dubai for three days during the Cop28 climate conference, he has told Italian television.

The pontiff said he would depart on December 1 and stay until December 3.

No further details of his trip were disclosed, nor any appearances at the conference.

Pope Francis made the announcement during an interview on channel RAI on Wednesday.

"We are still in time to stop it," 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."

The trip comes about two weeks before his 87th birthday.

When asked about his health – after setbacks that included abdominal surgery to repair a hernia and remove intestinal scarring a few months ago – he said: “I'm alive.”

The pope has made the need for urgent care for the environment a hallmark priority of his papacy.

Last month, Pope Francis urged participants in Cop28 talks to agree to binding policies to phase out fossil fuels.

The Pontiff said the world's transition to clean, renewable energy was not progressing fast enough.

But he said the key climate conference presented an opportunity for "a change of direction”, with real commitments to moving to clean energy sources such as wind and solar.

The Pope made the comments in an update to his influential 2015 encyclical – the highest form of papal writing – in which he spoke of the need to protect the environment, face the dangers and challenges of climate change and reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Cop28 President-designate Dr Sultan Al Jaber was received by 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.

The international climate conference begins on November 30 and runs through to December 12.

The announcement of the Pope's attendance comes a day after King Charles III confirmed he would make an opening speech at the Cop28 climate summit.

The British monarch will address world leaders at the opening ceremony on December 1, and “take the opportunity to have meetings with regional leaders”, a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Updated: November 02, 2023, 10:48 AM