San Diego Cardinal Robert W. McElroy Releases Statement on Eve of World Climate Summit; Calls on World Leaders to Take Action to Mitigate Effects of Climate Change

(San Diego, Nov. 29. 2023) – Cardinal Robert W. McElroy, Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego, released the following statement on the eve of the United Nations 28th Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or COP28, Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 in Dubai:

“While His Holiness Pope Francis will no longer be attending the World Climate Change Summit in person this weekend, his call for environmental justice and his continuing leadership in encouraging nations around the world to address climate change will be front and center as world leaders gather for the United Nations 28th Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or COP28, Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 in Dubai.

“On Oct. 4, the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis released the Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum (“Praise God”) lamenting the inadequate global response to the climate crisis. He observes our world is on the verge of collapse, threatening lives, health, employment, access to resources, housing, and forced migration. The Pope makes clear his thesis: ‘This is a global social issue and one intimately related to the dignity of human life…The whole of the created order, which is the gift of God to all of humanity, is at risk.’

“The Diocese of San Diego joins Pope Francis in his call for global leadership. We especially seek the promotion of socially responsible financial structures, to include actions such as eliminating subsidies for fossil fuels and offering debt relief to the poorest, most impacted nations for the sake of funding climate adaptation and resilience.

“Here in Southern California, we have already seen temperatures in the eastern region of our diocese as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit, making work and simple daily tasks near to impossible. To the south, weather extremes, such as drought and flooding, imperil lives and livelihoods in Latin America, challenging local capacity to adapt and further frustrating good governance. As these climate challenges intensify, pressure to find work also intensifies, which adds to the immigration pressures facing our southern border.

“We press upon the leaders at COP28 to develop and enact just policies addressing the transformation of the global energy system to include equitable access to energy, fair market and revenue structures, and supportive labor reorientation programs. In our own region, lithium extraction at the Salton Sea, for example, presents incredible opportunity for new renewable energy employment; however, local employment and revenue from this burgeoning industry must also benefit the local population.

“Finally, we echo Pope Francis’ call to all people to take action and reemphasize his praise for the U.S. Bishops’ characterization of global warming’s social dimension, which recognizes ‘our care for one another and our care for the earth are intimately bound together.’ Therefore, we seek a strong Catholic response in our own homes and parishes to mitigate the effects of climate change in a context of faith, recognizing the poor and vulnerable face life-threatening circumstances, and our actions ultimately constitute love for neighbor at global scale.”

The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego ( runs the length of California’s border with Mexico and serves more than 1.4 million Catholics in San Diego and Imperial counties. It includes 96 parishes, 49 elementary and secondary schools, and through Catholic Charities of the Diocese of San Diego (, various social service and family support organizations throughout the region.