Pope Francis is in Africa for his first visit to the continent as pontiff.

His trip, to Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic, overlaps with next week's Paris climate change meeting (COP21).

Speaking at the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, Francis said:

In a few days, an important meeting on climate change will be held in Paris ... It would be sad, and I dare say even catastrophic, were particular interests to prevail over the common good. In this international context, we are confronted with a choice which cannot be ignored: either to improve or to destroy the environment.

COP21 represents an important stage in the process of developing a new energy system which depends on a minimal use of fossil fuels, aims at energy efficiency and makes use of energy sources with little or no carbon content. We are faced with a great political and economic obligation to rethink and correct the dysfunctions and distortions of the current model of development.

He added:

I express my hope that COP21 will achieve a global and transformational agreement based on the principles of solidarity, justice, equality and participation; an agreement which targets three complex and interdependent goals: lessening the impact of climate change, fighting poverty and ensuring respect for human dignity.

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