Thursday, August 20, 2015

Islamic Climate Change Declaration Calls for Zero Emissions Strategy

18 August 2015: Islamic leaders, during an International Islamic Climate Change Symposium, called on the world's 1.6 billion Muslims to take an active role in combating climate change and urged governments to agree to a new climate change agreement in Paris.

The Symposium convened to discuss proposed messages from the Islamic community and to mobilize stakeholders in advance of the Paris Climate Change Conference in December 2015. It also aimed to seek consensus on an ‘Islamic Declaration on Climate Change,' which was drafted and circulated for comments prior to the symposium.

Approximately 60 participants, including international development policymakers, faith group leaders, academics and other experts, attended the Symposium, which met from 17-18 August 2015, in Istanbul, Turkey. The event provided the opportunity for: networking with leaders from other faiths and secular organizations; promoting inter-faith and cross-movement cooperation around joint messages; focusing on the role and contribution of Muslims to the climate movement; and securing high-level representation from participating stakeholder groups. The Symposium reaffirmed that the Islamic faith community represents a significant section of the global population and, thus, can be influential in the climate change discourse.

The 'Islamic Declaration on Climate Change,' agreed to by participants, presents the moral case, based on Islamic teachings, for Muslims and people of all faiths to act on climate change. It was drafted by international Islamic scholars from around the world and is “in harmony” with the Papal Encyclical.

The Declaration urges: setting clear targets and monitoring systems; phasing out greenhouse gas emissions; committing to 100% renewable energy and/or a zero emissions strategy; and richer countries and oil-producing states to lead the way in phasing out their emissions by 2050. The Declaration also calls for, inter alia: the provision of financial and technical support to poorer countries to phase out greenhouse gases; limiting temperature rise to below 2°C, and preferably below 1.5°C; investing in a green economy; and prioritizing adaptation efforts with support to more vulnerable countries.

In addition, the Declaration urges corporations, finance and the business sector to, inter alia: reduce their carbon footprint; commit to 100% renewable energy and/or a zero emissions strategy; adopt a “circular economy that is wholly sustainable”; consider social and ecological responsibilities; and help in divesting from the fossil fuel driven economy.

Welcoming the Declaration, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Secretary Christiana Figueres said that 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,” provides guidance to take action on climate change.

The Pew Research Center data estimates that 84% of the world's population is religiously affiliated, which points to the importance of support by faith groups for climate action. Many other faiths and denominations have also called for governments to act on climate change, including through the Papal Encyclical, a forthcoming Buddhist Declaration on climate change and a Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis. [Symposium Website] [Islamic Declaration on Climate Change] [UNFCCC Press Release] [Climate Action Network Press Release] More