Vatican Signs Deal With Volkswagen for an All-Electric Car Fleet

Pope Francis has made ecological conservation one of the defining themes of his pontificate.

Volkswagen Electric charging station.
Volkswagen Electric charging station. (photo: Basel Al seoufi / Shutterstock)

The Vatican announced this week that it was partnering with the auto manufacturer Volkswagen as part of its broader initiative “Ecological Conversion 2030” to introduce an all-electric, zero-impact car fleet in the Vatican by 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, a goal established by the pontiff in 2020. 

“The Volkswagen Group, which aims to become a zero-carbon company by 2050 and reduce the carbon footprint of its vehicles by 30% by 2030, is the first strategic partner for the project to renew the car fleet of the state with Volkswagen and Škoda brand cars through the medium and long-term rental formula,” according to the official press release of the governorate of Vatican City State. 

The Vatican’s efforts are not limited to overhauling its fleet but will also include the construction of its own network of charging stations for electric vehicles, both in Vatican City State as well as in the extraterritorial areas, a reforestation program, and the importation of energy coming exclusively from renewable sources — the last of which was achieved in 2019, according to Vatican News. 

Pope Francis has made ecological conservation one of the defining themes of his pontificate. But the Pope has often lamented the tepid response from developed countries in implementing measures to curb the most dramatic effects of anthropogenic climate change, despite the actions called for by international treaties such as the 2015 Paris Climate Accords. 

In October of this year the Holy Father released the second installment to his seminal 2015 climate encyclical Laudato Si’. In the October apostolic exhortation Laudate Deum, the Pope criticized climate change skeptics and warned that “the world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point.”

In October the Pope received Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, president-designate of the United Nations’ COP28 UAE, at the Vatican to discuss the role that faith leaders and faith-based organizations can play in promoting the U.N.’s climate objectives. 

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is an annual meeting among U.N. member states and nonstate organizations to discuss common goals and measures to help reduce global carbon output and make the transition to renewable energy sources. 

Earlier this month the Pope announced that he would be attending COP28, making history as the first Pope to do so since the conference began in 1995. 

COP28 will be held at Dubai’s Expo City from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12, though the Pope will only be there for three days, from Dec. 1–3.