A group of influential Muslims is calling on others of their faith to wage a jihad on global warming, and is calling on Islamic governments to reduce their use of fossil fuels ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Paris this year.
“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,” wrote Islamic leaders from 20 countries after attending a summit in Istanbul, Turkey.
“We are driven to conclude from these warnings that there are serious flaws in the way we have used natural resources – the sources of life on Earth. An urgent and radical reappraisal is called for,” the Muslims wrote to Islamic government officials, delegates and activists.
In the wake of Pope Francis’ encyclical letter, other religious groups have made appeals to governments to agree to an international treaty to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this year, hundreds of Rabbis signed an open letter urging “vigorous climate action.”
For years now, the Anglican Church has been battling the “demon” of global warming. The Church of England has threatened to divest itself from fossil fuel holdings, and the United Church of Canada, the country’s largest Protestant church, recently divested from coal and oil sands holdings.
Environmental activists hope the growing number of religious organizations urging countries to ditch fossil fuels will convince U.N. delegates to sign on to an international climate agreement later this year. The recent letter from prominent Muslims to their 1.6 billion religious counterparts has been seen as a positive development by activists.
“All the faiths are talking about climate change,” David Shreeve, an environmental adviser to the Church of England’s Archbishop’s Council, told Nature. “It’s great that the Muslims are putting out a declaration, because whatever your faith, it’s a great opportunity for the faiths to stand up and say we really are concerned about this.”
But will this letter actually convince countries to ditch fossil fuels? Not likely, as many Islamic nations make up the oil cartel OPEC and are heavily reliant on oil, gas and coal to keep their developing economies running.
OPEC is made up 12 member states — Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela — that control more than 80 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. Most of these 12 states are Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia which is OPEC’s largest producer and also the center of Sunni Islam.
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