The Islamic Climate Change Declaration shows the real face of Islam

The goals and targets laid out in the Climate Change Declaration by Islamic leaders set up a new benchmark for climate action, making it the most ambitious climate statement so far.

Today 18th of August in Istanbul Islamic leaders from 20 countries launched a bold Climate Change Declaration to engage the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims on the issue of our time.

Civil society is delighted by this powerful Climate Declaration coming from the Islamic community, which could be a game changer, as it challenges all world leaders, and especially oil producing nations, to phase out their carbon emissions, keep 2/3 rd of fossil fuel reserves in the ground, and supports the just transition to 100% renewable energy as a necessity to tackle climate change, reduce poverty and deliver sustainable development around the world. The direct goals and targets laid out in this Declaration have set up new benchmark for climate action, making it the most ambitious climate statement so far. After the Pope’s call for the phase-out of fossil fuels and numerous Christian groups divest, now Islamic communities are looking to match or exceed these efforts. Having both Christian and Islamic moral authorities calling on acting on climate change is necessary for poverty reduction and sustainable development is a clear message to all governments that there is no excuse not to prioritize action on climate change.

The Declaration presents the moral case for Muslims and people of all faiths worldwide to take urgent climate action. It actually shows that, according Islamic doctrine, not acting on climate change is a sin, and it is primary responsibility of all Muslims to protect natural processes. It says that God has given humans the responsibility to act as guardians to the balance of this Earth, upon which they will be judged. Basically, it means that if you do not act on climate change, then you are not a Muslim.

What was also striking is that all the participants in the drafting of the declaration understood fully the politics of climate change, especially the challenges in the position of oil rich Arab countries in the international climate negotiations. Some of the participants where from these countries as well. Nevertheless, they all did not allow politics to be the driver of the declaration, but more the Islamic moral responsibility in each individual.

These days, individuals do not get inspired easily, especially not by the Islamic community. This Islamic declaration did show the real face of Islam, and it is very inspiring.

Wael Hmaidan is the Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) International. He is Lebanese and a Nivela associate. Follow Wael on Twitter @Whmaidan.

Join the conversation via #muslims4climate.

Read CAN International's Press Release about the Climate Change Declaration.

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