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De Blasio previews Vatican trip to speak out on climate change

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said yesterday that "I cannot think of a more important mission" than traveling to the Vatican next week to join a papal campaign to stamp out climate change.

De Blasio, who will fly Monday to Italy for a "very, very quick visit," said he'll tell Pope Francis' international gathering of elected leaders about the city's environmental plans.

"The pope is the leading voice on this earth in the fight against inequality. There's no question about it," de Blasio told reporters at an unrelated event in the Bronx. De Blasio added: "He has, I think, now become the most powerful voice on why we have to address climate change."

De Blasio, who speaks Italian and last year vacationed in the country with his wife and children, said he does not expect a private audience with Pope Francis.

"I think what the pope is doing is very smart -- to elevate the issue even further -- to force actions by countries," de Blasio said.

The mayor, a Democrat, said he thinks the pope can effect change like few others.

"The power of this pope is that he is bringing all these strands together with tremendous eloquence and with a voice that is waking people up," de Blasio said.

City taxpayers will fund the trip, including for travel of aides and his police bodyguards.

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