Muslim leaders declare action on climate change is ‘religious duty’, shift to 100% renewables ASAP

August 13, 2015

Muslims must put pressure on their governments to reach a deal at December’s Paris Climate Change Summit, Islamic leaders will tell the religion’s 1.6 billion followers the week of August 16th.

The Islamic Climate Change Declaration, drafted by leading Muslim scholars, academics and faith groups, will tell mosques and madrassas worldwide it is a “religious duty” to tackle climate change.

The statement is also expected to petition governments to transition from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy as quickly as possible.

The declaration is due to be unveiled at a symposium in Istanbul next Tuesday, where religious speakers will call on the world’s richest governments to step up efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and support vulnerable nations as they seek to bolster their resilience to climate change.

Ahead of its launch, Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje, the Grand Mufti of Uganda, said Muslims had an obligation to “leave this world a better place than we found it”.  “Every person must recognise the role they are playing in harming our planet and the devastating impact this is having on some of the world’s most vulnerable and other communities,” he said. “Islam teaches us: ‘man is simply a steward holding whatever is on Earth in trust’, therefore man should ensure that we do everything possible to protect for this and future generations in order to leave this world a better place than we found it.”

The declaration follows statements made by Pope Francis in his annual encyclical in June, in which he implored Catholic citizens to demand climate action from their governments ahead of the Paris Summit.

Human beings could cause the ending of life on the planet, says a group of Islamic scholars − and countries round the world, particularly the rich ones, must face up to their responsibilities.

Climate change, they say, is induced by human beings: “As we are woven into the fabric of the natural world, its gifts are for us to savour – but we have abused these gifts to the extent that climate change is upon us.”

Allah, says the declaration, created the world in mizan (balance), but through fasad(corruption), human beings have caused climate change, together with a range of negative effects

We are seeing such negative effects on the environment that include deforestation, the destruction of biodiversity, and pollution of the oceans and of water systems.  Furthermore 80% of lung disease is from the air pollution we are causing through combustion of fossil fuels.

The views of the scholars – some of the strongest yet expressed on climate from within the Muslim community – are contained in a draft declaration on climate change to be launched officially at a major Islamic symposium in Istanbul in mid-August.  The draft declaration has been compiled by the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES), the leading academic think-tank for environment and Islam and Climate Action Network international is a leading intergovernmental organisation on climate change, Islamic Relief Worldwide which is the largest international development Muslim NGO tackling climate change through its programmes around the world, and the Greenfaith interfaith organization on environment and faith.

The Islamic declaration makes particularly strong criticism of the world’s richer and more powerful countries, which, it says, have delayed through their selfishness the implementation of a comprehensive climate change agreement.

“Their reluctance to share in the burden they have imposed on the rest of the human community by their own profligacy is noted with great concern,” the declaration says.

Interestingly, the draft declaration – which is still being worked on by various Muslim academics around the world – says that, in particular, wealthy oil-producing countries must “refocus their concerns from profit to the environment and to the poor of the world”. Saudi Arabia, where Mecca is located, is one of the world’s leading oil-producing countries.

A new economic model needed, recognizing finite resources of planet

The declaration says a new economic growth model should be found that recognises that the planet’s resources are finite.

It also calls on big business to face up to its social responsibilities and not exploit scarce resources in poor countries, and says that businesses should also take a more active role in reducing their carbon footprint.

The declaration says Muslims everywhere in their particular spheres of influence should seek to play a role in tackling climate change – and that other faith and religious groups should also join in realising the aims of the Islamic scholars “to compete with us in this endeavour so we can all be winners in this race”.

The declaration quotes extensively from the Qur’an, the Muslim holy book, as the basis of its arguments.

In related news, Anote Tong, President of the Republic of Kiribati, has initiated a global rally for a moratorium on new coal mines, today writing to all world leaders to request their support for the proposal.

“It is my firm conviction that as a global community we can and must take action [on climate change] now,” the letter states. “Kiribati, as a nation faced with a very uncertain future, is calling for a global moratorium on new coal mines. It would be one positive step towards our collective global action against climate change and it is my sincere hope that you and your people would add your positive support in this endeavour. Let us join together as a global community and take action now”.

The campaign has been hailed by Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International, who praised Kiribati for “refusing to be silenced by reckless governments and corporations that are perpetuating climate change”.

Suggested tweets

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For the 1st time global Muslim leaders are convening to launch a #climate declaration #Muslims4Climate @IRWorldwide

Muslim leaders to convene in Istanbul & launch Climate Declaration before #COP21 #RoadToParis #Muslims4Climate @IRWorldwide