|August 20, 2015|
Muslims get emission religion
|Islamic leaders from 20 countries on Tuesday called on the world's 1.6 billion Muslims to take action on global warming, urging a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels and a switch to renewable energy.|
"It's time for Muslims to get serious about climate change ahead of Paris COP21," said Mohamed Ashmawey, one of the authors of the declaration and chief executive of Islamic Relief, in a statement.
The Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change, drafted by an international group of Islamic scholars, is a call based on Islamic teachings to cut greenhouse gas emissions and urges governments to agree on an ambitious deal during December's Paris climate talks. It warns that the "current rate of climate change cannot be sustained, and the earth's fine equilibrium may soon be lost."
The Muslim declaration comes after June's encyclical on the environment by Pope Francis, which warned of "serious consequences for all of us" if mankind does not act to halt global warming. Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, welcomed the Islamic declaration in a statement pledging solidarity to work towards a sustainable future.
But the climate change declaration, made during a conference in Istanbul, may carry less weight than the Roman Catholic equivalent because Islam does not have a single leader.
"The key message of the declaration ... is to mobilize the Muslim community worldwide and get them to change their lifestyles and to start an education process," said Fazlun Khalid of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
Asking Muslim societies to tackle the root causes of climate change, following "the example of the Prophet Mohammad," the declaration urged wealthy and oil-producing nations to phase out all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and to provide "generous financial and technical support to the less well-off."
The highest carbon dioxide emitters in the Middle East are Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Among the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Qatar and Kuwait have the highest per capita levels of CO2 emissions.
So far, Morocco is the only Middle Eastern country to have submitted a climate action pledge ahead of the Paris summit. However, the conference declaration could spur oil-producing Muslim countries to act.
The Climate Action Network, an umbrella organization grouping hundreds of NGOs, said the declaration 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 percent renewable energy as a necessity to tackle climate change."
Religious leaders, including the grand muftis of Uganda and Lebanon, expressed support for the declaration. "[We] are committed to implementing all recommendations," said Din Syamsuddin, chairman of the Indonesian Council of Ulema, the country's top clerical body, representing over 200 million Muslims.
Saleemul Huq, director of the London-based International Institute of Environmental and Development and another author of the declaration, 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."
Christiana Figueres, the UN's climate chief, said it was necessary to undergo a value shift to ensure a sustainable future based on clean energy. In a statement, she said, "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."