Pope Francis meets with President-Designate of the upcoming COP28 climate talks and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology of the United Arab Emirates the Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber and delegation during an audience at his Studio of the Paul VI Hall in Vatican City, Vatican on Oct. 11, 2023. Vatican Media via Vatican Pool / Getty Images

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Pope Francis said he will attend the United Nations COP28 Climate Change Conference. The meeting in Dubai is the first time a pope will attend the UN climate summit since they started in 1995, reported Reuters.

In an interview on the RAI Italian state television network, Pope Francis said he would travel to the United Arab Emirates to attend the summit early next month.

“I believe I depart on the 1st [of December] and stay until the 3rd. I’ll be there three days,” Pope Francis said yesterday, as reported by the Catholic News Agency.

The COP28 Climate Change Conference begins on November 30 and runs until December 12.

At the conference, it is expected that the pope will express the sentiment of his recent Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum (Praise God), in which he implored policymakers and those who deny the existence of climate change to stop dismissing human causes or ridiculing science when Earth “may be nearing the breaking point,” reported Reuters.

Instead, the pope encouraged action, saying in an interview that there is still time to stop global warming.

“Our future is at stake, the future of our children and our grandchildren. A bit of responsibility is needed,” Pope Francis said, as reported by Reuters.

He said the Dubai climate talks “can represent a change of direction” if binding accords are made to transition away from fossil fuels to sources of renewable energy like solar and wind, AFP reported.

“If there is sincere interest in making COP28 a historic event that honours and ennobles us as human beings, then one can only hope for binding forms of energy transition that meet three conditions: that they be efficient, obligatory and readily monitored. This, in order to achieve the beginning of a new process marked by three requirements: that it be drastic, intense and count on the commitment of all,” the pope wrote in Laudate Deum.

Pope Francis met with Sultan al-Jaber, the president of the COP28 climate conference, on October 11. They discussed their common climate goals, as well as the role faith-based organizations and leaders have in furthering climate objectives.

“May those taking part in the Conference be strategists capable of considering the common good and the future of their children, more than the short-term interests of certain countries or businesses,” the pope wrote in the Apolstolic Exhortation.

Pope Francis, who is 86, has made protecting the environment one of the characteristics of his papacy.

“If we are confident in the capacity of human beings to transcend their petty interests and to think in bigger terms, we can keep hoping that COP28 will allow for a decisive acceleration of energy transition, with effective commitments subject to ongoing monitoring,” Pope Francis wrote in Laudate Deum. “This Conference can represent a change of direction, showing that everything done since 1992 was in fact serious and worth the effort, or else it will be a great disappointment and jeopardize whatever good has been achieved thus far.”

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