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

Islamic leaders

The Islamic declaration was issued at a summit in Istanbul. Creative Commons: Levent Coskun, 2011

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.

Drafted by an international team of Islamic scholars, the declaration has been endorsed by more than 60 participants and organisations including the Grand Muftis (top religious law officials) of Uganda and Lebanon.

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 “leave this world a better place than we found it”.

“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,” said Din Syamsuddin, Chairman of the Indonesian Council of Ulema.

The move has been welcomed by civil society groups stressing the importance of bring the faith voice to the UN climate talks taking place in Paris this December.

“Coming on the heels of the Pope’s encyclical it is great to see Christians and Muslims uniting to tackle a common enemy,” said Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid’s Senior Climate Change Advisor.

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.

Drawing on a long history of faith-based teachings, it calls on 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 also 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.

Dr Saleemul Huq, Director of Institute of Environmental Studies said:

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.

Many Muslims live in parts of the world that are particularly vulnerable to climate change, like Bangladesh and parts of sub-Saharan Africa and the declaration stressed the urgent need to protect these most vulnerable communities.

It calls on governments meeting in Paris 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 2C danger threshold – or preferably the 1.5C demanded by vulnerable nations – and offers increased support for those communities already suffering from climate impacts.

In the declaration Muslim leaders also offered a clear message to those countries – including the Islamic countries of the Middle East – who have are growing wealthy from the unsustainable exploitation of fossil fuel resources, calling on wealthy and oil-producing nations to phase out all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

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% renewable energy.

Wael Hmaidan, International Director of Climate Action Network said:

“This powerful Climate Declaration coming from the Islamic community… 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.”

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