Sunday, September 13, 2015

Islamic Climate Change Declaration More Effective Than Encyclical | The New Republic

Pope Francis may have soaked up headlines earlier this summer when he published a whopping 192-page encyclical on climate change, but this week Muslims issued a declaration that could influence an even larger population than the Catholic decree. The declaration, announced Tuesday as part of the two-day International Islamic Climate Change Symposium in Istanbul, further exemplifies the trend of faith-based climate activism ahead of the U.N. climate change summit in December.

Like the papal encyclical, the Islamic Climate Change Declaration calls for a rejection of human greed for natural resources, respect of nature’s “perfect equilibrium,” and recognition of the “moral obligation” to conserve. More concretely, it hopes to rally the world’s wealthiest and oil-producing countries—several of which are predominantly Muslim—to act as leaders in cutting emissions and helping less affluent governments make the same reductions. Corporations were asked to commit to waste-free business plans and divest from economies driven by traditional fuel sources.
Though Tuesday’s declaration may not have a political impact on countries like Pakistan, faith-based appeals could have resounding effects in public perception and encourage conversation on climate change, as the recent encyclical has.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, an Islamic philosopher and professor at George Washington University, said that faith has much greater power to reach Muslims than politics. For instance, Egypt and other countries in the Nile basin have attempted to restrict the river's pollution, but it’s unlikely for residents to stop their dumping practices without religious impetus from a local mosque, said Nasr. “Islam is still very powerful in the Islamic world,” he said. “If a priest says, ‘Don’t cut a tree, because it’s a sin,’ it will have much more effect.”

Islamic Climate Change Declaration More Effective Than Encyclical | The New Republic

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