At Vatican conference, world mayors urge action on climate change

by Reuters
Tuesday, 21 July 2015 11:39 GMT

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a "Modern Slavery and Climate Change" meeting at the Vatican July 21, 2015. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

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* Vatican looking to influence Paris climate summit

* Declaration by local leaders says Paris may be last chance

* California governor denounces well-financed opposition

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY, July 21 (Reuters) - Mayors and governors from major world cities on Tuesday will urge global leaders to take bold action at this year's U.N. climate change summit, saying it may be the last chance to tackle human-induced global warming.

Pope Francis has invited some 65 local and regional leaders to attend a two-day conference on how cities can address what the Vatican calls the "interconnected emergencies" of climate change and human trafficking.

It is the Vatican's latest attempt to influence a United Nations summit in Paris in December aiming for a global deal to combat climate change after past failures.

The pope issued an encyclical in April demanding swift action to save the planet from environmental ruin and urging world leaders to hear "the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor".

Mayors from South America, Africa, the United States, Europe and Asia will later on Tuesday sign a declaration stating that the Paris summit "may be the last effective opportunity to negotiate arrangements that keep human-induced warming below 2 degrees centigrade."

Leaders should come to a "bold agreement that confines global warming to a limit safe for humanity while protecting the poor and the vulnerable...," says the declaration, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

High-income countries should help finance the cost of climate change mitigation in low-income countries, it says.

In a direct rejection of so-called climate change deniers, the declaration says: "Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its effective control is a moral imperative for humanity."

The conference linked climate change and modern slavery because, according to an introductory paper, "global warming is one of the causes of poverty and forced migration".

"FIGHT PROPAGANDA"

California Governor Edmund "Jerry" Brown, whose state is suffering a severe drought, urged mayors to "fight the propaganda" of big business interests that deny that climate change is human induced.

"We have fierce opposition and blind inertia and that opposition is well financed," Brown said.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called Pope Francis "the most powerful voice on this earth for those whose voice is not being heard," and added: "He did not convene us here to accept the status quo but to indict it".

De Blasio announced that New York City would commit to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030 on top of a previous commitment to reduced them by 80 percent by 2050.

Tony Chammany, the mayor of Kochi, India, said coastal areas were already feeling the effects of rising sea levels. "It is now or never, there may never be a replay," he said.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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