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U.S. envoy wants pope to attend climate conference, sway debate

John Kerry says Pope Francis has the authority to sway public opinion over global warming and is invited to attend COP26.

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Pope Francis meets U.S. climate envoy John Kerry at the Vatican May 15. Vatican Media / Handout via REUTERS
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VATICAN CITY, May 15 (Reuters) - Pope Francis has the moral authority to sway public opinion over global warming and might attend the United Nations' Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Scotland, U.S. President Joe Biden's climate envoy John Kerry said on Saturday.

COP26 is being held in Glasgow in November and could accelerate measures by the world's biggest polluters to tackle climate change, a challenge which activists, scientists and world leaders say could ultimately endanger the planet.

"I think that his voice will be a very important voice leading up to and through the Glasgow conference, which I believe he intends to attend," Kerry told the official Vatican News outlet after meeting the pope.

There was no immediate confirmation of this from the Vatican.

"Because he is above politics and outside of the hurly-burly of day-to-day, national conflict, I think he can sort of shake people a little bit and bring them to the table with a better sense of our common obligation," Kerry added.

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Kerry is mid-way through a week-long trip to Europe, meeting government officials and business leaders in Italy, Britain and Germany, as well as the Vatican City, ahead of the summit.

Francis has made many calls for environmental protection since becoming pope in 2013, and has repeatedly urged governments to take drastic measures to combat global warming and reduce the use of fossil fuels.

"We need everybody in this fight," Kerry said.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer, Editing by William Maclean)

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