Muslim leaders push for action on climate change

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Islamic leaders from 20 countries are urging world governments to phase out fossil fuels and rely on renewable energy to confront climate change.

The International Islamic Climate Change Symposium, a gathering of 60 Islamic leaders from around the world, released a declaration Tuesday pushing officials to formulate a plan this year to tackle climate change. 

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The declaration comes ahead of a major United Nations climate conference this December, where world leaders hope to write a strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and curbing global warming. 

In their declaration, the Islamic leaders urged conference participants to “bring their discussions to an equitable and binding conclusion” on a climate change strategy. 

They called on “well-off nations and oil-producing states” to institute policies that would keep the global temperature from increasing more than 2 degrees Celsius, the benchmark at which scientists predict the worst of global warming would set in. 

That means committing to 100 percent renewable energy “as early as possible,” the declaration says, and “re-focus[ing] their concerns from unethical profit from the environment, to that of preserving it and elevating the condition of the world’s poor.”

The declaration comes after a two-day symposium in Istanbul, and it was written by “a large, diverse team of international Islamic scholars from around the world,” according to the Climate Action Network (CAN), an international group of non-governmental organizations focused on climate policy.

“Civil society is delighted by this powerful climate declaration coming from the Islamic community, which could be a game changer,” CAN International Director Wael Hmaidan said in a statement. 

The declaration makes a moral case for taking on climate change and quotes from the Quran to urge Muslims to support the effort. It’s the latest push from global religious leaders on climate climate: Pope Francis released a landmark papal encyclical in June urging action on the environment.

According to CAN, the declaration aligns with Francis's encyclical, and the Vatican has endorsed it. 

“It is with great joy and in a spirit of solidarity that I express to you the promise of the Catholic Church to pray for the success of your initiative and her desire to work with you in the future to care for our common home and thus to glorify the God who created us,” Cardinal Peter Turkson, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said in a statement.