Islamic Climate Change Declaration

muslim environmentA new Islamic declaration set to be announced next week will call on the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims to take urgent action on climate change.

The Islamic Climate Change Declaration will be officially presented in Istanbul on Tuesday 18 August. Compiled by leading Muslims scholars and academics, the declaration will explain why climate change is the world’s most pressing challenge. It states it is every Muslims’ religious duty to tackle climate change.

It will call on the richest countries in the world to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and emphasise the importance of clean and renewable energy.

The declaration will be presented at the International Climate Change Symposium in Istanbul, which will be attended by Muslim leaders and scholars from around the world. Representatives from the UN, civil society and other faith communities will also be in attendance.

Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje, the Grand Mufti of Uganda, said protecting the planet is central to Islamic teaching.

“Every person must recognise the role they are playing in harming our planet and the devastating impact this is having on some of the world’s most vulnerable and other communities,” he said.

“Islam teaches us: ‘man is simply a steward holding whatever is on earth in trust’, therefore man should ensure that we do everything possible to protect this for future generations in order to leave this world a better place than we found it.”

Ibrahim Thiaw, UN Environment Programme Deputy Executive Director and Assistant-Secretary-General of the United Nations, said 2015 will be pivotal year for the international community in combating climate change.

“It has been heartening to see growing consensus among faiths that humanity’s development trajectory needs to be fundamentally altered in line with moral and spiritual values,” he said.

“The declaration to be made by Muslim leaders, calling on the world’s 1.6 billion adherents to Islam to tackle climate change as an inherent part of their religious duty, will, I hope, bring increased momentum to efforts to address the greatest challenge facing humanity today.”

The declaration comes in the wake of the Federal Government’s proposal to reduce emissions up to 28% of 2005 levels by 2030.

Mr Stuart McMillan, President of the Uniting Church in Australia, expressed disappointment at the target, which is lower than the minimum recommendation of the Climate Change Authority and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“Climate change really is a great moral challenge for our generation,” Mr McMillan said.

“The Government’s target is well below the level that experts say is required to reverse the effects of climate change.

“This is not just a failure of leadership; it’s a failure to care for future generations and for creation.”

Rev Elenie Poulos, National Director of UnitingJustice Australia, said the target will threaten Australia’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

“Instead of dragging our feet, we need a target that sets Australia on a course of zero pollution by the middle of the century,” she said.

“It will be even more difficult for Australia to act with credibility in the continuing international climate change negotiations when we are effectively asking poorer countries to shoulder the burden on our behalf.

“We are renewing our call for the Government to reconsider its policies on climate change, better support renewable energy and take a strong emissions reduction target of at least 40% of 2000 levels by 2020 to the international negotiations in Paris later this year.”

The symposium will be live streamed from 17-18 August here.

Image by Alliance of Religions and Conservation via Flickr.

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