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Bishops call for "major breakthrough" at global talks on climate change

In a 10-point proposal, the Catholic cardinals, patriarchs and bishops call for a "fair, transformational and legally-binding global agreement" at talks in Paris at end of the year.

It appeals for a strong limit to rising temperatures, the phasing out of emissions from fossil fuels and measures to protect the poor and vulnerable from the impacts of climate change.

It follows a stark warning from the Pope over the urgent need to tackle ''extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems'' in a message on the environment issued in the summer.

In the first papal encyclical Pope Francis has written, called Laudato Si, he said climate change was mostly down to human activity and policies were urgently needed to cut carbon emissions - such as by reducing fossil fuels and developing renewables.

In the statement, the presidents of all the continental Associations of Bishops' Conferences said: "We join the Holy Father in pleading for a major breakthrough in Paris, for a comprehensive and transformational agreement supported by all based on principles of solidarity, justice and participation.

"This agreement must put the common good ahead of national interests.

"It is essential too that the negotiations result in an enforceable agreement that protects our common home and all its inhabitants."

Oswald Cardinal Gracias, president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference (FABC), said they were calling on negotiators in Paris in December to come to a binding agreement to avert the dangers of climate change.

"It is our responsibility to convey, with a clear and confident voice, the message of Pope Francis's encyclical Laudato Si of caring for the Earth and caring for the poor," he said.

Neil Thorns, director of advocacy at aid agency Cafod, said: "Levels of ambition at last year's climate talks in Lima were nowhere near enough for the scale of the challenge, but as we approach Paris world leaders have another chance to get it right.

"Today's call from bishops around the world further emphasises the message of Pope Francis' landmark encyclical and will hopefully give leaders courage to take the bold decisions needed."

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