Climate change is one of the world’s most pressing problems. COP26, shorthand for the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, officially began around midday Oct. 31, 2021. World leaders are arriving in Glasgow for the COP26 climate summit, where they will be asked to make ambitious cuts in warming gases to prevent further global temperature rises. The Cop26 summit in Glasgow is where change towards the climate emergency could actually happen. The decisions made here could impact our jobs, how we heat our homes, what we eat and how we travel.
Faith communities play an active role in climate discussions. Faith leaders will be strongly represented at Cop26; for example, Pope Francis himself will be attending. People of faith have also mobilized to impact the COP26 gathering in Glasgow. A multifaith prayer service was also held on the opening day of the U.N. climate conference. Several hundred people gathered in George Square, just blocks from the Scottish Events Centre where the conference had just opened, to pray for world leaders who will convene over the next two days for speeches and high-level meetings.
“We remind governments of their commitments made in Paris in 2015 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees,” stated a multifaith declaration read at the event and signed by more than 50 multifaith religious leaders from Scotland and the United Kingdom.
Shaukat Warraich, CEO of Faith Associates, released the following statement –
“Places of worship play a vital role in tackling the climate emergency by educating their congregation, providing useful guidance, and developing good practices in their places of worship”.
Imam Qari Asim, MBE, (senior Imam at Makkah Mosque in Leeds) also shares this important message –
“Our lives are entirely dependent on complex natural systems: the atmosphere, ocean currents, the soil, the planet’s webs of life. Natural systems are approaching their tipping points; rising sea levels and massive food shortages threaten to drive hundreds of millions of people from their homes. This is triggering a cascade of chaos resulting in systemic environmental collapse.
COP26 is the moment of truth, an opportunity to take meaningful collective action on the biggest issue facing our generation. As stewards of the planet, we owe it to future generations to act decisively to protect the garden that we have inherited.
Those vulnerable communities that do not bear the blame of destroying the planet are shouldering the burden in this climate crisis. Those of us who have polluted the planet the most for our own benefit must be the first to change our lifestyles, if we are to defeat the existential threat to humanity. COP26 must deliver a safer and greener future for all.
Environmentalism is deeply embedded in the veins of Islam. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) urged people to be climate-conscious in all that they do, taking care of the beautiful earth. Islamic discourse offers a sense of hope and optimism about the possibility of attaining harmony between human and nature. Earth will find a balance if we humans reconsider our lifestyles and our choices, as stated in the Quran:
“Corruption has appeared in both land and sea Because of what people’s own hands have brought So that they may taste something of what they have done So that hopefully they will turn back” [Qur’an 30: 41]
The balance on our planet has been disturbed because of our choices which result in overconsumption, overexploitation and overuse of resources.
Behaviors and actions modelled on interdependence and co-responsibility is required to build-up positive momentum to achieve climate justice. Such a change of direction must be led by powerful nations but involve everyone; no one can hold back or fail to make a conscientious commitment in the face of this huge challenge.”
Faith communities influence climate discussions through public statements, global advocacy campaigns, building civil society coalitions, and ensuring that deliberations are people-oriented. Many Muslim faith leaders and institutions have also taken to social media to show their solidarity and support in calling for Climate Action. Some examples are highlighted below: