Credit By: Reuters
In an unprecedented move, Pope Francis is set to hold an entire day of private meetings with world leaders during the upcoming COP28 climate conference in Dubai. This marks a significant moment in his papacy, providing an opportunity for the 86-year-old Pope, also a head of state, to engage in high-level, one-on-one discussions with counterparts from various nations.
Date and Context:
Scheduled for December 1-3, Pope Francis’s visit to Dubai aligns with the COP28 conference, which runs from November 30 to December 12. This momentous occasion offers a platform for the Pope to share his well-known stance on climate change and engage personally with global leaders, fostering discussions on critical issues such as the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine.
Unprecedented Private Meetings:
The Pope’s itinerary includes two sessions of private meetings on December 2, following his speech at the conference. This arrangement stands out as the first time Pope Francis has scheduled numerous high-level, one-on-one engagements within such a condensed timeframe.
While the Vatican has not released a confirmed list of attendees, the private meetings present an opportunity for the Pope to address urgent global matters, including the ongoing conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine. His position on climate change is expected to drive discussions, aligning with the themes of the COP28 conference.
Attendees and Expectations:
Buckingham Palace has confirmed that King Charles will deliver the opening address, with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expected to attend. Although U.S. President Joe Biden is unlikely to participate, final decisions remain pending. Last year, leaders such as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, and French President Emmanuel Macron were among the attendees.
Global Push for Climate Action:
The COP28 conference aims to facilitate discussions for a historic deal to phase out CO2-emitting coal, oil, and gas. With representatives from dozens of countries participating, the event seeks to address pressing environmental concerns. Pope Francis, known for his advocacy on climate action, is expected to amplify his recent appeal for urgent measures to combat global warming.
Papal Influence on Climate Action:
Pope Francis’s presence at COP28 holds symbolic significance as the first time a pontiff has attended a U.N. climate meeting since its inception in 1995. His Apostolic Exhortation, titled “Laudate Deum” (Praise God), released on October 4, emphasizes the importance of tackling climate change and calls for a collective change of heart. The document underscores the Pope’s commitment to environmental advocacy and hope for tangible outcomes at COP28.
As Pope Francis prepares for this historic series of private meetings, the world watches with anticipation, recognizing the potential impact of his engagements on critical global issues. His presence at COP28 is a testament to the urgency of addressing climate change and fostering international cooperation for a sustainable future.
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