Islamic leaders have issued an Islamic Climate Declaration, calling 1.6 billion Muslims around the world to work towards phasing out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and towards a 100 percent renewable energy strategy. Their collective statement makes several detailed political demands likely to increase pressure on oil-producing Gulf States ahead of the Paris climate summit this December. Drafted at an international symposium in Istanbul, the Declaration calls for “all people, leaders and businesses to commit to 100 percent renewable energy.” The declaration was made by Islamic figures from Bosnia to Indonesia, and follows the Papal encyclical this summer and President Obama’s announcement of a Clean Power Plan this August. Catholic leaders have praised the Islamic Declaration as a positive step.

A group of top academics have been engaged in drafting the Declaration, which asks Muslims, in the words of the Koran, “not to strut arrogantly on the Earth,” Their direct statement says, “Human activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of the earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.” They made reference to oil, saying, “We particularly call on the well-off nations and oil-producing states to lead the way in phasing out their greenhouse gas emissions as early as possible and no later than the middle of the century.”

Islam’s teachings emphasise the duty of humans as stewards of the Earth and the teacher’s role as an appointed guide, illuminating pathways to take the right action on climate change. The authors of the Declaration say that it will be available in mosques and madrassas around the world. There is hope that it will influence political leaders in Muslim countries to become more fully involved in global attempts to deliver a new treaty on climate change, expected to be signed in Paris in December. Yet, while around 50 countries have so far posted their plans for curbing climate change ahead of the meeting in Paris, very few Muslim countries have been among them.

The symposium where the Declaration was announced provided an opportunity for leaders from other faiths as well as secular organisations to connect and promote inter-faith, cross-movement cooperation around aligned and joint messages. It highlights the future role and contribution of Muslims to the climate movement, presenting an open dialogue.

This powerful statement is also poetic. This is how the Declaration ends:

“Our species, though selected to be a caretaker or steward (khalifah) on the earth, has been the cause of such corruption and devastation on it…The world is sweet and verdant, and verily Allah has made you stewards in it, and He sees how you acquit yourselves.” 

sigh