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August 26, 2015
Another Major Religion Gets the Implications of Climate Change
    by Robert Kropp

Two months after Pope Francis delivers his encyclical on climate change, Islamic Relief hosts a climate change symposium and publishes the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change.

In June, the world was riveted when Pope Francis unveiled Laudat o Si, his encyclical on climate change and the environment. “Our present in many ways unprecedented in the history of humanity,” Francis wrote. “Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it.”

Whether the urgency of the encyclical translates into momentum for genuine international action at December's
COP21 Climate Change Conference remains to be seen. Since the last conference two years ago, the visibility of climate change related impacts have grown much more quickly that scientists had expected. And the theme of COP21 seems to be, leave Paris with a meaningful climate treaty.

Nevertheless we have a history of failure by governments to deal with the issue, while the impacts of climate change grow undeniably worse. “Business as usual” has become synonymous with insufficient corporate action on climate change, but business as usual—in the form of a fundamentally altered economy—appears to be a priority for world governments up until now.

So it is heartening to learn that representatives of another major religion have joined the Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church in speaking out on the urgency of action on climate change. The
Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change, launched this week by Islamic Relief Worldwide, acknowledges “The enormous responsibility the COP shoulders on behalf of the rest of humanity.”

The Declaration calls on “the well-off nations and oil-producing states” to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to zero by no later than 2050, and “Provide generous financial and technical support to the less well-off to achieve a phase-out of greenhouse gases as early as possible.”

The Declaration is especially forceful in its requests of the business and financial sectors:
1. Shoulder the consequences of their profit-making activities, and take a visibly more active role in reducing their carbon footprint and other forms of impact upon the natural environment;
2. commit themselves to 100 % renewable energy and/or a zero emissions strategy as early as possible and shift investments into renewable energy;
3. adopt a circular economy that is wholly sustainable;
4. pay more heed to social and ecological responsibilities, particularly to the extent that they extract and utilize scarce resources; and
5. Assist in the divestment from the fossil fuel driven economy and the scaling up of renewable energy and other ecological alternatives.

“Islam teaches us that humans should be in unity with all creation,” Dr Muhtari Aminu-Kamo of Islamic Relief stated. “There are climate change consequences for ecosystems and wildlife, with floods, droughts, the retreat of mountain glaciers, and changes to migratory patterns all clear signs of the impact already being felt.”

“This policy provides guidance for Islamic Relief moving forward so we can maximise our work on redressing climate change and can support those who suffer the most in our already changing climate,” Dr. Aminu-Kamo continued.


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