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Mayor Tau stands with Vatican on climate change

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Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau was one of at least 115 mayors and leaders of major cities around the world who on Wednesday signed a declaration at Vatican City committing themselves to effectively dealing with “human-induced climate change [as well as] social exclusion in the extreme forms of radical poverty, modern slavery and human trafficking”.

The declaration was signed at the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences.

Some of the cities that signed the declaration were Kingston in Jamaica, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Portland, Warsaw in Poland, Bristol City, Manchester, Minneapolis, Bogota in Colombia, San Jose, Porto Aleger in Brazil, Gaborone, Libreville, Koch in India, Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, Vancouver, Rome and Accra. On human-induced climate change, the mayors and top local government leaders declared that the scourge was a scientific reality and that its effective control was a moral imperative for humanity.

“In the core moral space, cities play a vital role. All of our cultural traditions uphold the inherent dignity and social responsibility of every individual and the related common good of all humanity,” the mayors declared.

The declaration noted that the summit on climate change (COP21) in Paris later this year might be the “last effective opportunity” to negotiate arrangements that keep human-induced warming below 2˚ Celsius.

The mayors also committed themselves to ending abuse, exploitation, human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery, “which are crimes against humanity”.

“We want our cities and urban settlements to become more socially inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable,” the mayors declared.

They also appealed to their respective stakeholders to play their part.

Executive Mayor Tau and the City of Johannesburg have, through C40 Cities, been at the forefront of efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Mayor Tau is also Co-President of Metropolis, a global network body of 138 world cities dealing with issues around urban sustainability.