Ethics Institutions Politics

10 US mayors join Pope Francis in pledging to combat climate change, trafficking

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gestures as he holds a news conference during the "Modern Slavery and Climate Change" conference at the Vatican July 21.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gestures as he holds a news conference during the “Modern Slavery and Climate Change” conference at the Vatican July 21, 2015. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Tony Gentile

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The mayors of New York, San Francisco and New Orleans were among the signatories to a Vatican declaration on Tuesday (July 21) pledging action on climate change and human trafficking.

The three were among more than 60 mayors invited to the Vatican to attend a two-day conference titled “Modern Slavery and Climate Change,” following on from Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical released last month.

The pledge specified bringing an end to “trafficking and all forms of modern slavery,” including prostitution and the selling of human organs.


READ: The ‘Splainer: Linking human trafficking, climate change and God


Among the 10 U.S. mayors to sign the declaration: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee and New Orleans Mayor Mitchell Landrieu.

The mayors of Boulder, Colo.; Birmingham, Ala.; Portland, Ore.;  Minneapolis; San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; and Boston also signed the agreement, alongside a host of Latin American and European mayors. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who will host a key U.N. climate change summit in her city this December, was also a signer.

“As mayors we commit ourselves to building, in our cities and urban settlements, the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reducing their exposure to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters, which foster human trafficking and dangerous forced migration,” the resolution reads.

De Blasio addressed participants at the Vatican conference Tuesday, saying they had been invited to the Vatican to “upend” the status quo. “It’s now a matter of survival,” he said. “How do we justify holding back on any effort that may meaningfully improve the trajectory of climate change?”

The New York mayor used the Vatican platform to announce plans for his city to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030, saying that local action was necessary to push national governments to take on the issue.

Landrieu agreed that it was up to local politicians to tackle the problems directly:

“(Pope Francis) has a very good political sense of how words are translated into action, because it really falls to the mayors to implement the policies that are enunciated by our national organizations.”


READ: Pope Francis’ approval ratings slump sharply in US, led by conservative dismay


Speaking to Vatican Radio, Landrieu also reflected on Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005. “As a result of climate change, more storms are coming,” he said. “They’re stronger; the impact is much more significant.”

The mayors’ meeting comes just two months before Francis embarks on a trip to the U.S., during which he will address Congress and is expected to touch upon climate change. His environmental message appears to have had a negative impact on his support basis in the U.S., however, where the pontiff’s popularity rating has slumped from 76 percent to 59 percent in a year.

YS/MG END SCAMMELL

About the author

Rosie Scammell

Rosie Scammell is a British journalist with extensive experience reporting for leading international news organizations. She has been based in Italy since 2012 and covers the Vatican for RNS.

3 Comments

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  • Re:Trafficking. No wonder the trial of the pope’s nuncio, Josef Wesolowski, was halted. After the pope left Wesolowski a free man for 14 months, when he was arrested Wesolowski had more than 100,000 computer files of pornography. “Some were downloaded from the internet and others the victims themselves were forced to take. The prelate stored part of this chamber of horrors on his own laptop. The material, which is classified by type, shows dozens of young girls engaged in sexual activities but the preference is for males. Images show youngsters aged between 13 and 17 being humiliated for the camera, filmed naked and forced to have sexual relations with each other or with adults.” i.e. victims of sex trafficking. Even as a resident of the Vatican, Wesolowski continued to access internet child porn.

  • Climate change science does not have to or is ALLOWED to say it’s ; “PROVEN”, just like religion.
    Didn’t science give us germ warfare and fracking?

    Now that you inclusive and tolerant and accepting and loving and OPEN MINDED and peaceful lazy copy and paste news editors are also “climate blaming pope worshipers” , will you now all be anti gay and pro life?

    “The end is near!!!!”

    Who’s the fear mongering neocon again here?

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