- Speech was delivered on his behalf by Secretary of State Pietro Parolin
Pope Francis has called for the elimination of fossil fuels in an historic speech to the UN climate conference Cop28 in Dubai.
He was suffering from a lung infection and was too unwell to deliver the speech, so it was given by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State.
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 Pope also called for a ‘decisive acceleration’ in energy efficiency, renewable sources, eliminating fossil fuels and educating people to do without them.
The Pontiff, leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Roman Catholics, also warned against blaming destruction of the environment on ‘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 future of fossil fuels is a key issue at the talks, where countries are debating whether to commit to ‘phasing out’ or ‘phasing down’ fossil fuels.
Cop28 president Dr Sultan Al Jaber, who is from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and chief executive of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, has signalled he favours a ‘phasedown’ of fossil fuels – reducing the emissions of oil and gas.
But analysis by pressure group Global Witness found that the UAE will increase its oil and gas production capacity by 42 per cent by 2030.
US Special Envoy John Kerry also announced for the first time that America would build no new coal power plants, and phase out existing ones.
Twenty-two countries, including the UK, US and France, also committed to tripling nuclear power.
Leaders from nearly 200 countries and around 100,000 delegates are attending the summit, which runs until December 12.