Islamic Relief has joined hundreds of people to discuss climate change, and call for serious action to be taken to protect the world’s planet.

Climate experts from Islamic Relief joined around 44 religious leaders, COP 21 delegates and climate campaigners on November 28 to deliver petitions collected from across the world.

Islamic Relief is a leading member of the Muslim Climate Action (MCA) in the UK which launched both the Green Torch Campaign to spread awareness and drive support for a greener climate, and collected petitions in mosques and online.

In total, 1,780,528 people joined a collection of faith-based petitions urging political leaders to take decisive action to curb global warming and help poor countries to adapt to climate change.

Just two days later, the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change was presented at an event organised by The World Conservation Union (IUCN) on faith-based engagement in the climate crisis.

Social and Ecological Responsibilities

The Declaration was launched in August at an international symposium held in Istanbul, which was co-hosted by Islamic Relief, with Islamic Foundation for Ecology & Environmental Sciences (IFEES) and GreenFaith.

Lotifa Begum with the solar-powered torch

Lotifa Begum with the solar-powered torch at a COP 21 side event.

Signed by faith leaders from across the world, it called for all nations with the greatest responsibility and capacity to lead the way in tackling climate change, and for Islamic leaders around the world to pay more heed to the social and ecological responsibilities they have.

There was also an opportunity to engage with youth leaders representing diverse religious traditions. More than 50 youth leaders from 35 countries attended a three-day summit, Welcoming the Other: Multi-religious Youth Respond to the Challenges of Violent Religious Extremism, Refugee Crisis and Climate Change.

The summit, which was organised by international coalition Religions for Peace (RfP), was a chance for the youth leaders to discuss their views and concerns with representatives of the United Nations, intergovernmental organisations, and experts and practitioners from civil society organisations.

Lotifa Begum, global campaigns coordinator, said: “On the eve of COP21, which has been coined as the last hope to save the earth from disastrous climate change effects, I was optimistic that people of faith and activists from around the world would be able push for real change.

“At the Faith in Climate Justice event, the Muslim Climate Action statement was handed to UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. It was signed by more than 100 UK Muslim activists and mosque leaders and urged governments to reach an ambitious agreement. The most vulnerable communities are often most affected by climate change, as I have seen from Islamic Relief’s climate livelihoods adaptation programme in Bangladesh. This solar-powered green torch represents the green teachings of Islam and has travelled across the UK and on to Paris symbolising the need for a greener and more sustainable world. It is now time for decision makers and us us do what it takes to protect Earth.”

The summit participants condemned the violence committed in the name of religion and rejected any attempt to fuel distrust and cycles of discrimination and violence to polarise and divide our communities.

The youth leaders committed to further strengthen their effort to advance peace, and a two-year action plan was developed and a strong multi-religious statement was issued defining their future actions and their firm commitment to ensure its implementation.