FEATURE: Pope’s Fleet Going Greener in Run Up to COP26

Vatican, British & Japanese Ambassadors to the Holy See, & Nissan Launch Initiative at Vatican Ceremony

FEATURE: Pope’s Fleet Going Greener in Run Up to COP26
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Ahead of the upcoming COP26, the Pope’s fleet is going greener.

During a June 5 ceremony in the Vatican, Nissan donated an electric Nissan Leaf to the small sovereign State where President of the Governatorate of the Vatican City State, Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, presided over the handover in the presence of Managing Director for Nissan Italy, Marco Toro; British Ambassador to the Holy See, Sally Axworthy; and Japanese Ambassador to the Holy See, Seji Okada. Nissan’s Sunderland factory joined by video-link.

Cardinal Turkson to Exaudi: Pope May Go to Glasgow for COP26

Nissan is committed to producing vehicles sustainably. The production of the Nissan Leaf, in Sunderland in the northeast of England, as well as the car itself, is expected to reach net zero emissions within two years.

At the Climate Ambition Summit in December 2020, Pope Francis committed the Vatican City State to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. As part of this effort, the Vatican is gradually replacing all their combustion engine cars with electric or hybrid vehicles.

Pope’s Possible Stop in Glasgow for COP26

The Pope may make a brief trip to Scotland for the COP26 event this November, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson had told Exaudi in the Vatican on May 25. The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on Nov. 1-12, 2021. The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Cardinal Turkson told Exaudi‘s Deborah Castellano Lubov that while nothing is confirmed yet, there is the idea of the Pontiff and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew being there at the same time.

“We are hoping and we are keeping our fingers crossed,” the cardinal said, “noting the request has been made and addressed to him.”

“As far as I know, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, has also–through his personal secretary–made contact, to try to synchronize the dates,” he noted.

British Ambassador to the Holy See – Delighted, Vatican Greening Its Vehicle Flight

“Transitioning to electric vehicles,” Sally Axworthy, British Ambassador to the Holy See, said today, “will be an essential part of our collective efforts to keep global temperature rises below 1.5 degrees. In the year in which the UK will host the climate summit, COP26, I am really delighted that the Vatican is greening its vehicle fleet with the help of Nissan.”

This, she noted, sets “an excellent example for us all.”

“The UK,” Ambassador Axworthy underscored, “has committed to reach net zero by 2050 and will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030,” noting: “The vehicle’s production in Sunderland shows how technology can bring sustainable economic growth and dignified employment.”

Japanese Ambassador to Holy See: Global Decarbonization Requires International Community

Ambassador of Japan to the Holy See, Seji Okada, reminded: “The Japanese Prime Minister Suga declared that Japan aims to realize a decarbonized society by reducing greenhouse gas emission to zero as a whole by 2050, and that the Government of Japan will work for the utilization of decarbonized power sources, such as renewable energy.”

“But,” the Ambassador to the Holy See added, “global decarbonization cannot be achieved through the efforts of one country alone, it is a challenge that requires the whole international community to act in one.”

Prime Minister Suga has also stated that towards COP26, Japan intends to accelerate the “virtuous cycle of environment and growth” through innovation, and continue to lead the international community in order to realize the decarbonized society in line with the Paris Agreement.

“As Pope Francis called for urgent action on climate change,” Ambassador Okada underscored at today’s ceremony, “it is particularly significant that the Vatican will gradually replace its service vehicles with an all-electric fleet, setting an example for all other countries of the world. The contributions of companies like Nissan will be vital to achieving this aim.”

Sunderland plant is Nissan’s central manufacturing hub in Europe. While the northeast of England had been a center for coalmining, shipbuilding and steel, by the 1980s most of that had gone away.

Having opened in 1986, Nissan is the biggest automotive plant in the UK, producing 500,000 vehicles a year, more than 1,500 per day, with a mainly local workforce.  The factory employs 6,000 people and more than 30,000 rely on the plant for employment. They have made 200,000 Leafs since 2013 and built the UK’s first battery plant on site.

In the run up to COP26, the UK is working with every nation to implement the Paris Agreement on tackling climate change. Key goals are securing global net zero by 2050 and keeping temperature rises below 1.5 degrees.  To deliver on these targets, countries will need to accelerate the phase-out of coal, curtail deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewables.


Deborah Castellano Lubov is Editorial Director & Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for EXAUDI (& Prior, for ZENIT); Author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/
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