Call for Muslims to fight global warming

ISTANBUL • A group of Islamic experts has urged the world's 1.6 billion Muslims to do more to fight global warming, in a new example of religious efforts to galvanise action before a UN climate summit in Paris in December.

In June, Pope Francis, urged world leaders to hear "the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor" in an encyclical on the environment for the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

Unlike Roman Catholicism, Islam is a highly decentralised religion with no single recognised authority.

But Muslim experts from 20 nations on Tuesday agreed on an eight-page declaration at talks in Istanbul, where it was adopted by 60 participants including the Grand Muftis of Uganda and Lebanon, a statement said.

"Excessive pollution from fossil fuels threatens to destroy the gifts bestowed on us by God. Gifts such as a functioning climate, healthy air to breathe, regular seasons and living oceans," they wrote.

They said inaction on reining in man-made greenhouse gas emissions from factories, power plants and cars would mean"dire consequences to planet earth".

The declaration called on rich governments - and oil-producing states that include some Opec nations, where Islam is the state religion - to lead the way in "phasing out their greenhouse gas emissions as early as possible and no later than the middle of the century".

Dr Din Syamsuddin, who is the chairman of a Muslim organisation in Indonesia, which has about 30 million members, welcomed Tuesday's declaration.

"Let's work together for a better world for our children, and our children's children," he said.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, a key collaborator on the papal encyclical, praised the declaration and promised closer cooperation with Muslims "to care for our common home and thus to glorify the God who created us".

Ms Christiana Figueres, who is head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, said religion was a guide for action.

"Islam's teachings, which emphasise the duty of humans as stewards of the earth and the teacher's role as an appointed guide to correct behaviour, provide guidance to take the right action on climate change," she said in a statement.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2015, with the headline 'Call for Muslims to fight global warming'. Print Edition | Subscribe