Faith communities around the world recognize their critical roles in taking action on the climate crisis, acknowledging that this is also a moral crisis. This is the context by which the International Islamic Climate Change Symposium was held last 17 and 18 August in Istanbul, Turkey, seeking broad unity and ownership from the Islamic community around the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change, a draft of which was initially circulated.
The symposium that included Islamic leaders and scholars from 20 countries was “an opportunity for faith communities to provide a vision, inspire others and lead the way in building a fairer, safer, cleaner world built on renewable energy – leading the way on a journey to an economic system that meets development goals and is also spiritually fulfilling. The Islamic faith community represents a significant section of the global population and certainly, can be influential in the discourse on climate change.”
The declaration called on the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims to participate actively in addressing the impacts of climate change and to urge governments to work towards a conclusive and effective climate change agreement during the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Meeting of the Parties (MOP) to the Kyoto Protocol in Paris, France on December 2015.
In particular, the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change calls upon governments and leaders “to bring their discussions to an equitable and binding conclusion, bearing in mind” the following critical realities:
- 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.
The Muslim leaders also called for the phase-out of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and no later than the middle of the century to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, and specifically directed richer nations and oil-producing states to lead the way. Nations and leaders are asked to commit to 100% renewable energy and a zero emissions strategy now.
Senior international development policy makers, leaders of faith groups, academics, and other experts from the Islamic community connected with leaders from other faiths and secular organizations, promoting inter-faith and cooperation in joint messages.
This event reflects the growing call from various faiths and denominations in urging governments to take effective climate action in Paris, as they also pledge climate action. These include:
- Laudato si’, the papal environment encyclical of Pope Francis that calls on the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to take action
- The Church of England, in its General Synod, that urges world leaders to agree towards a low carbon future and who divested their resources from fossil fuel and redirecting these to clean energy
- The Time to Act is Now, a Buddhist declaration on climate change, emerged from the contributions of over 20 Buddhist teachers of all traditions to the book titled A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency and the Dalai Lama was the first to sign the declaration.
- Hindu leaders and other interfaith groups are releasing statements and cooperating in various forms in taking action and moving critical global support