Remarking on the pontiff's address, executive director of the C40 cities climate change group Mark Watts, told CNA he was struck by the connection drawn between climate change and slavery.
“I think it was that message of: if you want to make the world a better place right now, and you want to tackle climate change, there is one thing you have to do, which is tackle inequality,” Watts said.
The Pope in his speech showed how “the effects of climate change that we are already experiencing is causing a big increase in migration as people flee areas where life is no longer sustainable,” Watts said.
“Those people are often the ones that fall into the trap of slavery and are exploited.”
The two-day symposium gathered some 65 mayors world wide, as well as other leaders, in light of the difficulties which urbanization brings to cities and rural areas alike.
Speaking on climate change, the Mayor of San Jose, Sam Liccardo, told CNA the reasons he is following the lead of the Pope – a spiritual leader – on matters which pertain to science.
“It seems to me that this is an issue where we critically need leadership from Pope Francis,” he said. “In order to spur the political will, we need him.”
“The science is largely undisputed at this point. There is a broad consensus among scientific experts. What lacks is political will, and we need leaders that are able to inspire people, to be able to make tough decisions, critical decisions for us for the future.”
Fellow Californian, governor Jerry Brown, who took part in the meetings, told CNA that this week's conference was an important step bringing global awareness to the issue of climate change.
“This conference is important as a call to action for mayors here, and for mayors and governors and presidents throughout the world,” Brown said.
“The big point is that the magnitude of the problem that climate change represents is juxtaposed with the complacency, the indifference, and the lack of real understanding,” he added.