NEW YORK CITY—Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to speed up the city's promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions Tuesday during a speech at the Vatican.
De Blasio announced in September at the United Nations Climate Summit that the city had committed to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
"I’d like to announce our next big step. We are committing to 40 by 30, on our way to 80 by 50. A reduction of our emissions levels by 40 percent by the year 2030," de Blasio said.
The mayor is on a two-day taxpayer financed trip to Italy to speak as a part a conference at the Vatican called “Modern Slavery and Climate Change: The Commitment of The Cities.”
Later Tuesday, de Blasio was part of a group of mayors from around the world who listened as Pope Francis addressed environmental issues and human trafficking.
The pope recently wrote an encyclical believed to be the first to focus solely on environmental issues and has used his platform to urge world leaders and businesses to do more about environmental crises facing the planet.
During his speech, de Blasio said the pope's "encyclical burns with urgency."
"Is it not the definition of insanity to propagate governmental policies and consumer habits that hasten the destruction of the earth — and yet somehow expect some other result?" de Blasio said during his speech.
De Blasio was not one of the politicians who got to greet the pope, but he said he was impressed by the attention the pope has given to the issues of climate change, human trafficking and inequality.
"This is a leader such as we haven’t seen before, really. He is saying things so clearly and so powerfully all over the world that need to be said," said de Blasio who called his visit "one of the great moments" of his life, both professionally and personally.
The pope is also scheduled to visit the United States during a five day trip starting Sept. 22. The pope will have breakfast at the White House and also address Congress and the United Nations during stops in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington.
"The Pope’s message needs to be heard in Washington," de Blasio said. "It has been ignored – the very ideas of addressing inequality and creating a more fair economic reality."
De Blasio said the details of the sped up plan to reduce greenhouse gas admissions will be released later but an initial analysis shows it is a reachable goal for the city.
De Blasio delivered keynote remarks at another event on sustainable development in Rome Wednesday and is expected to return to the city Wednesday evening.