Vatican City (AP) Pope Francis says this year’s UN climate conference will show whether there really exists a political will to do what it takes to mitigate climate change and to assist the poorer and more vulnerable nations most affected by it.

Francis sent his regrets for not attending the conference, saying in a message read by the Vatican’s No. 2 official, Cardinal Pietro Parolin: “I had hoped to be with you in person in Glasgow, Scotland, but that was not possible.”

He added in the message, “I accompany you, however, with my prayers as you take these important decisions.”

Francis has made caring for the planet’s environmental health a key plank of his papacy since it began in 2013. “Sadly, we must acknowledge how far we remain from achieving the goals set for tackling climate change,” he wrote in his message for the COP26 conference.

The pontiff urged the international community to use honesty, responsibility and courage in addressing global warming, and pressed for the human family to pull together.

“Today, as in the aftermath of the Second World War, the international community as a whole needs to set as a priority the implementation of collegial, solidary and farsighted actions,” Francis said.

Also read: India stays off UK-led deforestation declaration at the COP26 summit

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