A values-based call for climate action

Over 20 scholars, academics and activists from across the Muslims world came together earlier this month to issue a Declaration on Global Climate Change.  I was genuinely impressed with the content of the declaration and believe it has the potential to be a powerful call for action.

Besides the fact that it speaks to one of the largest audiences on the planet, the declaration encompasses key messages and principles which are too often forgotten.  It addresses everyone from national leaders and their people to the business community, and does not shy away from specifically calling on ‘well-off nations and oil-producing states’.

The Declaration begins with a preamble that draws on the recent scientific reports by the UNEP (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment) and the UNFCCC.  It moves on to affirm the creation of Earth in perfect equilibrium and the human-caused catastrophe resulting from the disruption of the balance.  It recognises both mankind’s abilities and limitations, as well as our accountability for our actions.  Finally it calls on people, organisations, and countries to take meaningful, far-sighted, and immediate action.

I have included my favourite five quotes below.

1 – Fundamental flaw

We note with alarm the combined impacts of rising per capita consumption combined with the rising human population.

Similar to the World Environment Day slogan I mentioned in a previous post, this statement highlights perhaps the most fundamental flaw in our current way of life: over-consumption.  Coupled with a 7+ billion population, the flaw turns into a catastrophe.

2 – Yes we can

We recognize that we are but a miniscule part of the divine order, yet within that order, we are exceptionally powerful beings, and have the responsibility to establish good and avert evil in every way we can.

If that is not empowering, then I don’t know what is!  Even better, it is both humbling and empowering.

Islamic Declaration_participants

Participants in the International Islamic Climate Change Symposium


3 – With great power comes great responsibility

Intelligence and conscience behoove us, as our faith commands, to treat all things with care and awe (taqwa) of their Creator, compassion (rahmah) and utmost good (ihsan).

Imagine if we held this statement in mind every time we came to make a decision, whether it was what food to eat, what shirt to buy, what holiday to book or what business to run.  How different would our choices be?  How different would our Earth be?

4 – Enough is enough

We call upon the Conference of the Parties (COP)…to bring their discussions to an equitable and binding conclusion.

Do you know that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) held it’s first session in November 1988…that’s right, 27 years ago.

5 – Fresh solutions

We call on the people of all nations and their leaders to…set in motion a fresh model of wellbeing, based on an alternative to the current financial model which depletes resources, degrades the environment, and deepens inequality.

Let us not kid ourselves, addressing a fundamental flaw requires a fundamental change in the way we run our economies and our lives. The good news is that if we do manage to get out of the box of the current ‘growth forever’ financial / consumption model, we can address economic, environmental, and social challenges all at the same time.

While it might seem like a daunting mission, I truly believe that we are beginning to make progress towards a more balanced existence, and that we have the ability to get there in the coming few decades.

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