Pope Francis bows out of climate summit

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Pope Francis is no longer planning to attend the crucial UN climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, starting in three weeks. The Vatican announced on Friday.

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why it matters: Francis’ presence, given his global stature, could have helped trigger hopes of tougher talks aimed at taking more aggressive steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Emissions and finance pledges under the Paris climate agreement are non-binding and at the discretion of each country, so diplomacy and persuasion are vital to achieving strong action.

running news: The Vatican delegation will be led by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. According to Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican Press Office.

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What are we watching: The rest of the RSVP list for the heads of state that follows the two-week summit beginning October 31.

  • President Biden is set to attend, along with several other leaders, but plans for some major heads of state remain unclear.
  • Notably, officials in China – the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter – have not said whether President Xi Jinping will visit.

big picture: The summit, known as COP26, comes as global emissions are nowhere close to the downward spiral needed to meet the 2015 Paris climate agreement targets.

  • The agreement calls for limiting warming to “well below” 2 °C compared to pre-industrial levels, and ideally limiting temperature rise to 1.5 °C.
  • They are the benchmark for avoiding some of the worst damages and risks from climate change beyond the harmful effects they are already holding and are sure to get worse.
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