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World News

Pope to attend COP28 in Dubai in 'highly significant' move

by Donna Birrell

The Pope has announced he intends to travel to Dubai for the COP28 international climate change conference in December.

It will be the first time a pontiff has attended a Conference of Parties (COP) meeting since it began in 1995.

Speaking to Italian television, Pope Francis said he would stay at the conference for three days.

Catholic commentator Austen Ivereigh told Premier it's a "very significant move" by the Pope.

"This is huge. It's the first time ever a pope has been to a COP meeting. He is, of course, a head of state himself, albeit a small state, and as such, he has the right to go. But normally, he would have been represented by the Cardinal Secretary of State who, effectively as a foreign minister, would always represent the Pope.

"So the fact that he's choosing to be there - and one presumes, although they haven't yet announced this – that he will give a speech there, and will hope to influence events, is a very significant move by a pope who has made ecology and climate change absolutely central to the pontificate. The church's mission in the modern world is to call for a new relationship with creation by virtue of who we are as creatures and I think this is really important that he's going."

Last month, the Pope published Laudate Deum, a follow-up to the ground-breaking 2015 encyclical Laudato Si. 

For Ivereigh, the document was "a powerful clarion call to world leaders to say, we've got to act and a very powerful critique of the COP annual meetings". He added: " In a way, the Pope is despairing of the heads of state, he's despairing of the politicians. But he's hurt. He has his hope in the people of God, putting pressure on those politicians. And he's going to say, 'We've got to make this work.'"

The COP 28 event runs from 30th November to 12th  December. Pope Francis is expected to attend from the 1st to the 3rd. 


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