At the Vatican on Tuesday, mayors from around the globe pledged to fight climate change and help the world’s poor deal with the effects of a warming planet, an oath that came during a two-day conference with Pope Francis—himself a dedicated climate activist.
About 60 mayors pledged, one by one, to reduce their cities’ emissions and urge global leaders to pass a “bold climate agreement” at the upcoming United Nations talks in Paris that “confines global warming to a limit safe for humanity, while protecting the poor and the vulnerable from ongoing climate change that gravely endangers their lives.”
The event, which also focused on combating modern-day slavery, was organized shortly after the publication of Pope Francis’s unprecedented environmental encyclical. It marked the first time that the Vatican had invited local leaders to meet with the pope, an effort that sought to fuel local grassroots movements calling for an aggressive fight against climate change to emerge at the Paris talks in December.
Among the cities represented at the meeting were New York City, San Francisco, New Orleans, Boston, Vancouver, Madrid, Rome, and Stockholm. California Governor Jerry Brown was also in attendance.
“We can’t say that the person is here, and the care for the environment is there,” Francis said on Tuesday as he took the stage to address the mayors. “This is what I was trying to express in the encyclical “Laudato Si’.” We can’t separate man from all else. There is a mutual impact.”
“It’s not a green encyclical; it’s a social encyclical,” he continued.
His call was heralded by those in attendance. “There is a vivid recognition that mayors are key players in changing how policies that have before now been spoken about across nations are actually applied on the streets of the cities,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu told Catholic News Service. “Mayors are actually responsible for getting things done.”
And New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a speech at the conference, stating, “It’s increasingly clear that we local leaders of the world have many tools and that we must use them boldly even as our national governments hesitate.”
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