Why is this important: Francis’ presence, given his global stature, could have helped give momentum to what should be difficult talks to encourage more aggressive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- The promises of emissions and financing under the Paris climate agreement are not binding and at the discretion of each country, diplomacy and persuasion are therefore important to ensure stronger action.
Driving the news: The Vatican delegation will be headed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, according to Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican Press Office.
What we are looking at: The rest of the RSVP list for the Heads of State portion that occurs at the start of the two-week summit that begins October 31.
- President Biden is expected to attend along with many other leaders, but the plans of the leaders of some key countries remain unclear.
- In particular, Chinese officials – the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases – have not said whether President Xi Jinping will go.
The big picture: The summit, known as COP26, comes as global emissions are far from starting the steep descent needed to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
- The agreement plans to limit warming to “well below” 2 ° C above pre-industrial levels, and ideally limit temperature rise to 1.5 ° C.
- These are benchmarks for avoiding some of the worst damage and risks of climate change beyond the damaging effects already in place and which are sure to worsen.