Islamic leaders have called on the world's 1.6 billion Muslims to play an active role in combatting climate change and have urged governments to conclude an effective universal climate change agreement in Paris at the end of the year.
Faith leaders, senior international development policy makers, academics and other experts made the call in an Islamic Declaration on Climate adopted at an International Islamic Climate Change Symposium in Istanbul in Tuesday.
The leaders called on governments meeting in Paris to “bring their discussions to an equitable and binding conclusion” bearing in mind:
- The scientific consensus on climate change, which is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate systems;
- The need to set clear targets and monitoring systems;
- The dire consequences to planet earth if we do not do so;
- The enormous responsibility the COP shoulders on behalf of the rest of humanity, including leading the rest of us to a new way of relating to God’s Earth.
Zero Emissions As Soon As Possible
The Muslim leaders furthermore called on the people of all nations and their leaders to phase out greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible in order to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, and to commit themselves to 100 % renewable energy and/or a zero emissions strategy as early as possible. They specifically called on richer nations and oil-producing states to lead the way in phasing out their greenhouse gas emissions as early as possible and no later than the middle of the century.
Welcoming the declaration, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Secretary Christiana Figueres said:
A clean energy, sustainable future for everyone ultimately rests on a fundamental shift in the understanding of how we value the environment and each other. Islam’s teachings, which emphasize the duty of humans as stewards of the Earth and the teacher’s role as an appointed guide to correct behavior, provide guidance to take the right action on climate change.
Speaking on the first day of the International Islamic Climate Change Symposium on Monday, the UNFCCC’s Director for Strategy Halldór Thorgeirsson set out the UN's key expectations for the universal climate change agreement in December. He said: “Due to the fact that warming from carbon dioxide persists for many centuries, any upper limit on warming requires net carbon dioxide emissions to eventually fall to zero. Avoiding dangerous climate change therefore requires fundamental economic transformation, not fine tuning of existing systems, leading to deep, and later full, decarbonisation of energy supply.”
Surge in Religious Calls to Support Climate Action
Many faiths and denominations have this year also been calling governments to take action at the Paris climate meeting, along with pledging climate action themselves.
In June, Pope Francis released a papal encyclical letter, in which he called on the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to join the fight against climate change.
The Church of England’s General Synod recently urged world leaders to agree long term pathways to a low carbon future, and is among a number of Christian groups promising to redirect their resources into clean energy.
Hindu leaders will release their own statement later this year, and the Buddhist community plans to step up engagement this year building on a Buddhist Declaration on climate change. Hundreds of rabbis released a Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis.
Interfaith groups have also been cooperating throughout the year. The Vatican convened a Religions for Peace conference in the Vatican in April, and initiatives such as our Our Voices network are building coalitions in the run-up to Paris.
The importance of global support by faith groups for effective climate action is underscored by Pew Research Center data, according to which around 84% of the world’s population are religiously affiliated.
See also the Climate Action Network International press release.
Image at top of article: Fadi Itani (Twitter)