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The UN Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, concluded on Wednesday (CNS/UN Climate Change COP28, Neville Hopwood)

Catholic officials present at the United Nations climate summit in Dubai had mixed reactions to the summit’s conclusion, as nearly 200 countries agreed for the first time to shift away from fossil fuels. Source: NCR Online. 

An agreement signalling “the beginning of the end for the fossil fuel era” was reached early on Wednesday, nearly 24 hours after the scheduled end of the COP28 climate conference held in the United Arab Emirates, a top oil-producing nation.

While COP28 president Sultan al-Jaber and others in the final plenary session hailed the deal as a historic breakthrough, Catholic officials had mixed reactions.

They saw the commitment to a transition from fossil fuels as an important step, but also expressed disappointment that the language was diluted and the document contained loopholes. 

Overall, they said it lacked urgency in meeting what science says is necessary to stave off suffering for millions of people from more extreme storms, sea rise, droughts and heat waves.

Addressing the summit as it drew to a close, Archbishop Christophe Zakhia El-Kassis, the Holy See’s nuncio to the UAE leading the Vatican delegation, expressed the delegation’s “concerns that the expectations of the youth and future generations, especially those of the people living in the areas mostly affected by climate change, have not been completely met, and that there was not a full response to the science”.

Martin Krenn, advocacy officer for the Coordination Office of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference for International Development and Mission, said the fossil fuel language in the text, while not perfect, sends “a very significant signal to the world, also to private investors and industry that fossil fuels don’t have a future”.

More than 100 officials with Catholic institutions and organisations registered to attend the climate summit in Dubai, which drew an estimated 85,000 participants, by far the largest climate COP to date.


‘A lot of work is still ahead’ say Catholics in response to COP28 conclusion (By Brian Roewe, NCR Online)