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VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis, who has spoken strongly for action against global warming in recent years, called on Saturday for people to work together to stop the world’s oceans filling up with plastic waste.

“We cannot allow our seas and oceans to be littered by endless fields of floating plastic,” the pope said. “We need to pray as if everything depended on God’s providence, and work as if everything depended on us.” The pontiff’s comments are from a message for the fourth annual prayer day “for the protection of creation” that is celebrated with other Christian denominations.

The pope addressed about 100 business leaders invited to the Vatican for the occasion, saying that “each of us has to be responsible for others and for the future of our planet”.

United Nations figures show eight million tonnes of plastic — bottles, packaging and other waste — enter the ocean each year, killing marine life and entering the human food chain.

Scientists have urged tougher restrictions on plastic waste. In December, almost 200 nations agreed to limit plastic pollution of the oceans, warning it could outweigh fish by 2030.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2018