Nov 28, 2023 - World

Pope Francis cancels trip to COP28 climate summit due to illness

 Pope Francis celebrates Mass for All Souls' Day at Rome’s Military Cemetery on November 02, 2023 in Vatican City, Vatican.

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Vatican City earlier this month. Photo: Alessandra Benedetti via Vatican Pool/Getty Images

Pope Francis won't attend the COP28 climate summit in Dubai this week as planned due to ill health, the Vatican announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: Francis would have been the first pontiff to attend a formal UN "conference of the parties" and his planned speech and meetings would have lent weight to the talks, per Axios' Ben Geman.

  • Francis is a leading voice in combating climate change. A first-time papal encyclical on climate in 2015 expressed concern about harm to poor and vulnerable nations.
  • He also wrote an essay last month urging COP28 to produce more "obligatory" steps on energy transition.

The big picture: The pope was scheduled to attend COP28 from Friday to Sunday, and he said over the weekend that he would attend despite being diagnosed with inflammation of the lungs.

  • But Vatican officials said in a statement that he decided "with great regret" to cancel his visit on the advice of doctors even though his "general health situation has improved in relation to the flu and respiratory tract inflammation he has been suffering from."

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