Muslim leaders call on rich countries to curb fossil fuel use

A group of Islamic experts gathered in Istanbul to draft a declaration to fight climate change.

Mick Tsikas/Reuters/File
The sun is seen through the steam and other emissions coming from funnels of the brown coal Loy Yang Power Station in the Latrobe Valley near Melbourne in December 2008.

A group of Islamic experts urged the world's 1.6 billion Muslims on Tuesday to do more to fight global warming, in a new example of religious efforts to galvanize action before a U.N. climate summit in Paris in December.

In June, the world's most important Christian leader, 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 decentralized religion with no single recognized authority. But Muslim experts from 20 nations agreed an 8-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, whom we know as Allah - gifts such as a functioning climate, healthy air to breathe, regular seasons, and living oceans," they wrote.

They said inaction on reining in manmade 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."

It is unclear what weight the Islamic declaration will have for Muslims in the run-up to the climate summit in Paris from Nov. 30-Dec. 11.

Din Syamsuddin, chairman of a Muslim organization in Indonesia which has some 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."

Christiana Figueres, the head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, said religion was a guide for action.

"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, provide guidance to take the right action on climate change," she said in a statement.

(Writing by Alister Doyle in Oslo; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.