World mayors at Vatican seek 'bold climate agreement'

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Joe Torres reports from Vatican City. (WABC)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joined dozens of other mayors from around the world demanding that their national leaders take bold steps at the Paris climate talks later this year, saying that may be the last chance to keep the warming of the Earth at levels safe for humanity.

The spiritual aura that surrounds Pope Francis is palpable. But his recent encyclical that centered on the environment and now this Vatican conference called "Modern Slavery and Climate Change," has some Catholics asking, "climate change - from the pope?"

"He sees the big picture. If the earth isn't here, if we don't do something to help climate control, clean up the environment, we're not going to be here. So it makes sense to me," said Joanne Del George, a Staten Island resident.

It obviously makes sense to the pope who corrected those who believe his encyclical is an environmental document. He said it's actually a social document.

Francis told the gathering that he had "a lot of hope" that the Paris negotiations would succeed, but also warned the mayors: "You are the conscience of humanity."

"Climate change has an effect on creation and creation, from the church perspective, was made by God. And we need to respect what God gave us. So that's where he's coming from," said Ines San Martin, a Boston Globe Correspondent.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is one of 65 mayors from across the globe who attended the conference. He gave a 10-minute speech urging his colleagues to enact legislation that protects the environment and in turn benefits the poor.

Mayor de Blasio announced new greenhouse gas emissions targets for the Big Apple - committing the city to reducing its emissions 40 percent by 2030 - and urged other cities to follow suit.

"The Paris summit is just months away," de Blasio said. "We need to see it as the finish line of a sprint, and take every local action we can in the coming months to maximize the chance that our national governments will act boldly."

De Blasio is a founding member of an alliance of world cities that have committed to reducing emissions by 80 percent by 2050 or sooner.

Eyewitness News anchor Joe Torres is at the Vatican covering the mayor's trip. He will report and provide updates to ABC7NY and our social media pages.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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politicsMayor Bill de Blasiovatican cityclimate changepoliticsNew York City
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