Islamic leaders join global call for a fossil fuel phase-out

Intro

Islamic leaders from across 20 countries have today launched a bold Climate Change Declaration urging the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims to make climate change a priority issue. Much as Pope Francis declared action on climate change essential to the Catholic faith, the Islamic Climate Change Declaration offers a clear message to mosques and madrassas worldwide that they have a religious and moral duty to tackle the problem. Calling on all people, leaders and businesses to play a role, the declaration urges governments meeting at the UN climate talks in Paris this December to reach a new climate agreement that signals the end of the road for polluting fossil fuels, leaves the world within reach of limiting global warming below the internationally agreed 2DegC danger threshold – or preferably the 1.5DegC demanded by vulnerable nations – and offers increased support for those communities already suffering from climate impacts. In releasing such a call Muslim leaders have joined a global choir from all walks of life demanding action, and calling for a complete phase-out of fossil fuels in favour of a 100 per cent renewable future.

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Key Points

  • The Islamic Climate Change Declaration highlights Muslims’ religious duty to “leave this world a better place than we found it”. Drawing on a long history of faith-based teachings, the declaration calls on the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, and all people of faith, to play their part in protecting scarce resources, creating a future free from the ravages of climate change and alleviating the suffering of the world’s most vulnerable. It highlights Muslims’ role in leading societies away from polluting fossil fuels and towards clean, safe renewable energy and calls on Islamic scholars to share the teaching with their local communities and embed it into their daily practices.
  • The declaration adds yet further weight to the global call for a 100 per cent renewable future. Highlighting the urgent need to protect the world’s most vulnerable communities, Muslim leaders are calling on governments attending the UN climate talks in Paris this December to signal their intent to prevent further catastrophic damage to the environment, and hold global warming below the internationally agreed 2C danger threshold. Joining a global choir of leaders from all walks of life who are demanding action, they call on people, leaders and businesses alike to rapidly phase-out fossil fuels and switch to 100 per cent renewable energy.

Background

Muslims around the world have a moral and religious duty to tackle climate change, and pressure their governments to do the same ahead of the crucial UN climate talks in Paris this December, Islamic leaders have today told the religion’s 1.6 billion followers. Much as Pope Francis declared climate change essential to the Catholic faith when he released his long-awaited Encyclical in June, the Islamic Climate Change Declaration, released by Islamic scholars today in Istanbul, aims to inspire Muslim communities to make climate change a priority issue.

Calling for an awakening and revival of faith based teachings on the environment the declaration urges Muslims to play their part in protecting scarce resources, creating a future free from the ravages of climate change and alleviating the suffering of the world’s most vulnerable. It highlights their role in leading societies away from polluting fossil fuels and towards clean, safe renewable energy and calls on Islamic scholars to share the teaching with their local communities and embed them into their daily practices.

Drafted by an international team of Islamic scholars, the declaration has been endorsed by more than 60 participants and organisations including the Grand Muftis of Uganda and Lebanon. It urges governments to deliver a strong, new international climate agreement in Paris this December that signals the end of the road for polluting fossil fuels by creating architecture that will give us a chance of limiting global warming above pre-industrial levels to 2DegC, or preferably the 1.5 DegC demanded by the world’s most vulnerable nations.

The declaration calls for a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels and a switch to 100 per cent renewable energy as well as increased support for vulnerable communities already suffering from climate impacts. It can be seen as part of the groundswell of people from all walks of life calling for governments to scale up the transition away from fossil fuels. Wealthy and oil-producing nations are urged to phase out all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. All people, leaders and businesses are invited to commit to 100 per cent renewable energy in order to tackle climate change, reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development.

Key excerpts from the Declaration:

3.1 We call upon the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Meeting of the Parties (MOP) to the Kyoto Protocol taking place in Paris this December, 2015 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.

3.2 We particularly call on the well-off 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;
  • Provide generous financial and technical support to the less well-off to achieve a phase-out of greenhouse gases as early as possible;
  • Recognize the moral obligation to reduce consumption so that the poor may benefit from what is left of the earth’s non-renewable resources;
  • Stay within the ‘2 degree’ limit, or, preferably, within the ‘1.5 degree’ limit, bearing in mind that two-thirds of the earth’s proven fossil fuel reserves remain in the ground;
  • Re-focus their concerns from unethical profit from the environment, to that of preserving it and elevating the condition of the world’s poor.
  • Invest in the creation of a green economy.

3.3 We call on the people of all nations and their leaders to –

  • Aim to phase out greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible in order to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere;
  • Commit themselves to 100 % renewable energy and/or a zero emissions strategy as early as possible, to mitigate the environmental impact of their activities;
  • Invest in decentralized renewable energy, which is the best way to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development;
  • Realize that to chase after unlimited economic growth in a planet that is finite and already overloaded is not viable. Growth must be pursued wisely and in moderation; placing a priority on increasing the resilience of all, and especially the most vulnerable, to the climate change impacts already underway and expected to continue for many years to come.
  • Set in motion a fresh model of wellbeing, based on an alternative to the current financial model which depletes resources, degrades the environment, and deepens inequality.
  • Prioritise adaptation efforts with appropriate support to the vulnerable countries with the least capacity to adapt. And to vulnerable groups, including indigenous peoples, women and children.

3.4 We call upon corporations, finance, and the business sector to –

  • Shoulder the consequences of their profit-making activities, and take a visibly more active role in reducing their carbon footprint and other forms of impact upon the natural environment;
  • In order to mitigate the environmental impact of their activities, commit themselves to 100 % renewable energy and/or a zero emissions strategy as early as possible and shift investments into renewable energy;
  • Change from the current business model which is based on an unsustainable escalating economy, and to adopt a circular economy that is wholly sustainable;
  • Pay more heed to social and ecological responsibilities, particularly to the extent that they extract and utilize scarce resources;
  • Assist in the divestment from the fossil fuel driven economy and the scaling up of renewable energy and other ecological alternatives.

3.5 We call on all groups to join us in collaboration, co-operation and friendly competition in this endeavour and we welcome the significant contributions taken by other faiths, as we can all be winners in this race

وَلَكِن لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آتَاكُم فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ

He (God) wanted to test you regarding what has

come to you. So compete with each other

in doing good deeds.

Qur’an 5: 48

If we each offer the best of our respective traditions, we may yet see a way through our difficulties.

3.6 Finally, we call on all Muslims wherever they may be  –

  • Heads of state
  • Political leaders
  • Business community
  • UNFCCC delegates
  • Religious leaders and scholars
  • Mosque congregations
  • Islamic endowments (awqaf)
  • Educators and educational institutions
  • Community leaders
  • Civil society activists
  • Non-governmental organisations
  • Communications and media

to tackle habits, mindsets, and the root causes of climate change, environmental degradation and the loss of biodiversity in their particular spheres of influence, following the example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him),and bring about a resolution to the challenges that now face us.

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Key Quotes

  • “On behalf of the Indonesian Council of Ulema and 210 million Muslims we welcome this Declaration and we are committed to to implementing all recommendations. The climate crisis needs to be tackled through collaborative efforts, so let’s work together for a better world for our children, and our children’s children.” – Din Syamsuddin, Chairman of the Indonesian Council of Ulema
  • “I am proud to be associated with the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change released in Istanbul today. As a Muslim I try to follow the moral teachings  of Islam to preserve the environment and help the victims of climate change. I urge all Muslims around the world to play their role in tackling the global problem of climate change.” – Dr Saleemul Huq, Director of Institute of Environmental Studies
  • “The basis of the declaration is the work of world renowned islamic environmentalists, it is a trigger for further action and we would be very happy if people adopted and improved upon the ideas that are articulated in this document.” – Fazlun Khalid, Founder, Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences
  • “It is with great joy and in a spirit of solidarity that I express to you the promise of the Catholic Church to pray for the success of your initiative and her desire to work with you in the future to care for our common home and thus to glorify the God who created us.” – His Eminence Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Vatican City
  • “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.” – Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC
  • “Civil society is delighted by this powerful Climate Declaration coming from the Islamic community, which could be a game changer, as it challenges all world leaders, and especially oil producing nations, to phase out their carbon emissions and supports the just transition to 100% renewable energy as a necessity to tackle climate change, reduce poverty and deliver sustainable development around the world.” – Wael Hmaidan, International Director of Climate Action Network
  • “Coming on the heels of the Pope’s encyclical it is great to see Christians and Muslims uniting to tackle a common enemy.  Climate change will affect people of all faiths and the world’s poor in particular. 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. It is this prophetic, long term vision that will be needed to tackle a problem as far reaching as climate change. This symposium along with the Pope’s encyclical and the recent Lambeth Declaration signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury are welcome moves towards achieving that goal. We hope it will spur Muslim leaders to play an even bigger role in taking effective climate action, particularly in the Muslim majority nations.” – Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid’s Senior Climate Change Advisor
  • “The impacts of climate change will be felt first in many areas of the Muslim world such as north Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, so I welcome the Islamic Climate Change Declaration as timely and highly appropriate. I was born in Bangladesh which will be among the worst hit by climate change in the coming decades with millions at risk of becoming climate refugees. Climate change will make it more difficult for people in developing countries to achieve a good standard of health, education and economic opportunity, and this is something that will concern Muslims everywhere, including in Britain. Coming so soon after the Papal Encyclical, it sends an unmistakable signal that people across the faiths want to see a new global climate agreement signed this year and will hold their leaders, including David Cameron, to account if they fail to secure it.” – Rushanara Ali, UK Member of Parliament

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