Pope Francis has proven to be one of the strongest global voices pressuring action on climate change and environmental stewardship. Earlier this year, the Pope released Laudato Si, an encyclical calling on world leaders to consider the social, economic, and environmental costs of ignoring climate change. Last week, this message was echoed as he toured throughout the United States, calling on elected officials to lead their communities to a more sustainable future.
Mayor Hodges took the call and sprung into action. Last week, Hodges and Mayors from around the globe met in New York and signed onto a bold new climate action plan. The pledge aims to increase economic opportunity, increase sustainable development, and finally stop and reverse the effects of a changing climate.
Mayors are increasingly recognizing that climate action cannot wait for national and international leadership, and must begin with cities and regional leaders. With the majority of people now living in cities, this makes local officials powerful players in developing and implementing climate action plans. Minneapolis provides an exceptionally ambitious example of how cities can affect change. The city has committed to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 80% in the coming decades. They have implemented plans to recycle and compost 80% of the city’s waste in the next 15 years. And finally, they have invested in new transportation systems to better serve residents and the community.
These goals present cities with an opportunity to address the climate challenges that all communities face. The actions being implemented under the leadership of Mayor Hodges are good for the environment, and for the people of the city—helping to dampen racial, ethnic and economic disparities. Local leadership can begin in your city by learning to engage others, and joining with successful partnerships that are moving towards the Path to Positive Communities.
The world has a truly historic pope in Francis. From his outreach to the poor to his views on divorce to a Fiat as his conveyance of choice as he traveled around America last month, he is a leader unlike any we have ever seen.
Now that he has left, let’s think about what he did here.
Pope Francis used his voice — one of the most influential in the world — and a unique tack to call attention to an issue that affects every one of us: climate change.
Climate change is usually left to heads of state and leaders of nations. Yet when the pope held a convening on this global crisis at the Vatican this summer, he invited mayors. I was honored to be among the 65 from around the world invited to attend. I was joined by peers from every continent when Francis called on us to lead the fight against climate change.
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