Climate Change

Islamic declaration calls for a world free from fossil fuels

'Declaration crucial in creating the basis for behavioural change amongst Muslims'

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Thursday 20 August 2015
In 2014, 60 per cent of total electricity in Australia came from coal
In 2014, 60 per cent of total electricity in Australia came from coal In 2014, 60 per cent of total electricity in Australia came from coal

The recently-released Islamic Declaration on Climate Change explains why climate change is the world’s most pressing and says that it is duty of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims to play an active role in fighting climate change. It aims to mobilise the community across the world and to change their lifestyles. 

The declaration that was drafted by Islamic environmental and religious leaders was released at the International Islamic Climate Change Symposium, at Istanbul. In July 2009 too, a seven year action plan by Muslims had demanded responsible actions from the Islamic community.

Team of six behind the declaration

  • • Ibrahim Ozdemir, professor of philosophy and founding president of Gazikent University, Turkey
  • • Azizan Baharuddin, professor at University of Malaya, Malaysia
  • • Othman Llewellyn, environmental planner, Saudi Wildlife Authority, Saudi Arabia
  • • Fazlun Khalid, founder of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Science
  • • Fachruddin Mangunjaya, vice chairman, Center for Islamic Studies at the Universitas Nasional, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • • Abdelmajid Tribak, head of environmental programmes, ISESCO 

Mohamed Ashmawey, chief executive officer at non-profit Islamic Relief Worldwide said, “The importance of this declaration is to tell the world ahead of the COP 21, that Muslims are part of the climate solution, are involved in salvation of the world and salvation of the earth for our children and grand children.”  

Call-for-action ahead of 2015 Paris Climate Conference

Citing climate research in Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (UNEP, 2005) and the climate assessment by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in 2014, the organisation has expressed concern over the overall state of the Earth that has steadily deteriorated. The Islamic Declaration also includes a call-for-action for policy makers at Conference of the Parties (COP 21 or the Paris meet), rich countries and oil-producing states, people and leaders from all nations, and the business community too.

Underlining the need for urgent global action, it emphasises the role of Islam in creating a world that is free from polluting fossil fuels; a world that believes in low carbon development world with efficient use of clean renewable energy.

The declaration calls 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.

It has urged the governments to work towards an effective universal climate change agreement in Paris at the end of the year. Arguing for increased financial support for communities vulnerable to climate change and harnessing renewable energy, it calls on the richest and most powerful developed nations of the world to lead the way and to phase out all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Reminding political leaders and businesses, the declaration has invited them to commit to 100 per cent renewable energy in order to tackle climate change, reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development.

'All religious communities must fight the crisis together'

The organisation has recognised the interest in environmental sustainability and climate change among other religious communities too and sought their cooperation to deal with challenges.

The declaration comes in the wake of Pope Francis's encyclical on the environment and climate change released in June 2015 that argued for a new partnership between science and religion to combat human driven climate change.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Vatican City, who helped craft the Pope encyclical, has assured his support for the Islamic declaration and said, “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.”

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

Muslims can be influential in the climate change discourse 

“Climate change is the most pervasive challenge faced by the world and Muslims are not immune to it. "At present, they contribute 25 per cent of the world’s population and so, we need to change their behaviour. It is going to be the driver for conflict, migration and poverty. Hence, this declaration is absolutely crucial in creating the basis for behaviour change amongst us," said Ebrahim Rasool, founder of non-profit The World for All Foundation.
Muslims will grow more than twice as fast as the overall world population between 2010 and 2050 and, in the second half of this century, will likely surpass Christians as the world’s largest religious group, says a study by Pew Research Centre, an American think tank. Hence, the Islamic faith community represents a significant section of the global population and can therefore be influential in the discourse on climate change.

Home to approximately 180 million Muslims outside the Arab world and next only to next only to Indonesia and Pakistan, India needs to give special attention to the declaration. The Pew research centre study projects India to be the country with the largest number of Muslims (more than 310 million) and expects it to overtake Indonesia and Pakistan as the country with the largest Muslim population. 

According to UNFCCC, a very few Muslim nations have submitted their plans on curbing climate change to the UNFCCC ahead of the COP 21 in Paris. Demanding action by the world, especially the Muslims, the development is an important intervention by Islamic community. It is expected to influence and engage political leaders and policy makers essential for an effective, participatory climate treaty and actions at UN climate change negotiations which are to be held in Paris in December. 

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