Muslim leaders call for global action on climate change
Leading representatives of Islam have called for action to tackle climate change across the world, at a symposium in Istanbul today (18 August).
Islamic representatives from the United Nations, the Middle East, the Far East, Africa and the UK set out a climate declaration for the world’s 1.6bn Muslims.
The Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change says: “God created the Earth in perfect equilibrium … the present climate change catastrophe is a result of the human disruption of this balance.”
The declaration from the leaders calls on the nations meeting in Paris in December later this year at the Conference of the Parties (COP21) talks on climate change to set clear targets, stressing the part well-off nations and oil-producing states have to play to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The declaration offered a particular call to wealthier countries to offer assistance through “financial and technical support” to poorer nations to phase out fossil fuels. It also hinted at the changes needed in oil-reliant Arab nations in the Middle East, stressing the need to keep two-thirds of fossil fuel reserves in the ground to limit global warming.
“Excessive pollution from fossil fuels threatens to destroy the gifts bestowed on us by God, whom we know as Allah,” says the declaration.
The document also calls for the world’s businesses to take greater responsibility for reducing the impact of climate change, arguing businesses should “change from the current business model which is based on an unsustainable escalating economy, and to adopt a circular economy that is wholly sustainable”.
In a speech to the gathering of leaders in Istanbul, Ibrahim Thiaw, United Nations Environment Programme deputy executive director said: “The importance of engaging with faith-based organizations in addressing climate change and environmental concerns has become even clearer – as has the importance of faith-based organizations taking a prominent leadership role in influencing policy, education, and action in those areas.
“This is a moment of great opportunity to engage in producing the shift to a new, low carbon pathway that benefits all.”
The Islamic declaration follows Pope Francis’ Papal Encyclical to Catholics and Christians, which presented a moral call to action on climate change, as well as a criticism of an unsustainable economic model and of modern “throwaway culture”.
The new announcement by Muslim leaders adds to the words of other faith groups, demanding more action to protect the environment. In his keynote speech to the event, Thiaw said: “Across the world, people of all faiths and cultures welcomed the Encyclical and seeing you here today is a confirmation of the commitment to uphold these common and shared moral and spiritual values across all communities.”
Last month, the Church of England’s governing body, the General Synod, also announced plans to divest from fossil fuels to mitigate climate change, as part of a new ‘ecotheology’.
The announcement by Islamic leaders was welcomed by the charity Christian Aid’s senior climate change advisor Mohammed Adow, who said the declaration united Christians and Muslims against a common threat.
“Climate change will affect people of all faiths and the world’s poor in particular, said Adow. “As both faiths have a long tradition of caring for those in poverty it is right that they make tackling climate change a priority.”
“It is imperative that people of faith bring their voice into the global climate talks. Unlike politicians on short-term electoral cycles or businesses looking at the next quarterly statement, faith leaders have a generational perspective handed down to them over centuries.