Pope Advocates for Phasing Out Fossil Fuels

In a historic address to the UN climate conference Cop28 in Dubai, Pope Francis, who was unable to deliver the speech due to a lung infection, urged for the phasing out of fossil fuels. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, delivered the message on his behalf.

He said: ‘Destruction of the environment is an offence against God, a sin . . . that greatly endangers all human beings, especially the most vulnerable in our midst and threatens to unleash a conflict between generations.

‘Are we working for a culture of life or a culture of death? To all of you I make this heartfelt appeal: Let us choose life!

The Pontiff, leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Roman Catholics, urged for a ‘decisive acceleration’ in energy efficiency, the adoption of renewable sources, the phasing out of fossil fuels, and promoting awareness to reduce dependence on them. Additionally, he cautioned against attributing environmental destruction solely to ‘the poor and high birth rates.’

‘It is not the fault of the poor, since almost half of our world, that is more needy, is responsible for scarcely 10 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, while the gap between the opulent few and the masses of the poor has never been so abysmal,’ he said.

The fate of fossil fuels is a pivotal topic in the discussions, with countries deliberating between committing to ‘phasing out’ or ‘phasing down’ these energy sources.

Cop28 president Dr Sultan Al Jaber, hailing from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and serving as the chief executive of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, has indicated a preference for a ‘phasedown’ approach, aiming to decrease oil and gas emissions. However, a study by the advocacy group Global Witness revealed that the UAE plans to boost its oil and gas production capacity by 42 percent by 2030.

US Special Envoy John Kerry declared for the first time that the United States would refrain from constructing new coal power plants and would work towards the gradual phase-out of existing ones. Additionally, twenty-two nations, including the UK, US, and France, pledged to triple their investments in nuclear power.

The summit, attended by leaders from nearly 200 countries and approximately 100,000 delegates, is scheduled to continue until December 12.