Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

The Deployment of Climate Change and Control over Natural Resources in Current Radical Islamic Theory and Practice – Dr. Moshe Terdiman

October 16, 2014

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The Deployment of Climate Change and Control over Natural Resources in Current Radical Islamic Theory and Practice

by Moshe Terdiman

RIMA Climate Change and Conflict Papers, volume 1 (2014), Number 1 (October 2014) 

 

Introduction

During the last decade or so, radical Islamic organizations — Hizb al-Tahrir, Hizbullah, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar Dine, Boko Haram, Ansar al-Shari’ah, etc. — have been deploying climate change, competition and control over natural resources, and attacks against energy infrastructures in their fight against the local Muslim regimes across the Middle East, North Africa, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa as well as against Israel and the West. In addition, control over natural resources has proved to be a major source of income for some radical Islamic organizations. Moreover, radical Islamic organizations have been recruiting people who have been suffering from the loss of their livelihoods as a result of climate change effects.[1]

This article will give a short survey of this new phenomenon. It will be followed by a series of articles looking at each of the main radical Islamic organizations active in Africa and at their use of the environment in order to promote their aims.

The Ideological Level

On the ideological level, Hizb ut-Tahrir Denmark published a booklet in 2009 titled “The Environmental Problem: Its Causes and Islam’s Solutions”. Hizb ut-Tahrir is a pan-Islamic organization which was established in 1953 in Jerusalem and its goal is to unify all Muslim countries under a caliphate which will be ruled by Shari’ah law. Therefore, it is not surprising that in the framework of this booklet, Hizb ut-Tahrir blames the Western culture and its capitalist economic system for the ongoing environmental crisis and says that Islam is the only solution for this crisis. According to this booklet, the environmental crisis can be checked only under Islamic shari’ah rule, which will take care of the environment.[2]

Also Osama bin Laden, the late al-Qaeda leader, blamed the US and other industrial economies for climate change on an audiotape released on January 29, 2010. He said that “speaking about climate change is not a matter of intellectual luxury – the phenomenon is an actual fact”. He added that “all the industrial states are to blame for climate change, yet the majority of those states have signed the Kyoto Protocol and agreed to curb the emission of harmful gases. However, George Bush junior, preceded by [the US] congress, dismissed the agreement to placate giant corporations. And they are themselves standing behind speculation, monopoly and soaring living costs. They are also behind ‘globalization and its tragic implications’. And whenever the perpetrators are found guilty, the heads of state rush to rescue them using public money”.[3]

The Practical Level

Moving from ideology to practice, radical Islamic organizations are making use of climate change impacts in order to recruit people to their ranks as well as to convert people to their cause. For example, on February 24, 2010, Africa Review reported that many Boko Haram foot soldiers happen to be people displaced by severe drought and food shortages in neighboring Niger and Chad. Some 200,000 farmers and herdsmen had lost their livelihoods and, facing starvation, crossed the border to Nigeria, where some of them have been lured by the Boko Haram, which supplied them with salaries and food.[4]

Boko Haram is not the only radical Islamic organization which succeeds in luring people affected by climate change to its cause. Other radical Islamic organizations active in the Sahel – such as: al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar Dine, and others – are doing the same. In June 2014, the new UN Special Envoy for the Sahel, Hiroute Guebre Sellassie, used her first briefing to the Security Council to stress the connection between the “extremely fragile” humanitarian situation” and the worsening regional security. She said that “unemployed youth are particularly vulnerable to religious radicalization, while extremist groups are increasingly investing in the development of violent indoctrination. Extremist and radical ideologies continue to spread in the Sahel region and are driving many young men and women into violence”.[5]

From these two examples, one is able to see that the causes for the eruption of conflicts in Mali and Nigeria and for the rise of radical Islamic organizations in the Sahel are not only political, social, religious and ethnic, but also environmental, having to do with the decrease of agricultural yields, the expansion of the desert into pastoral and agricultural areas, and water shortages caused by climate change.

Radical Islamic organizations are also using the environment and its control over natural resources (such as: water, land, oil, etc.) as a means to make profit and finance its activities. Al-Shabaab has been financing its activities partly from elephant poaching and the trafficking of ivory, which funds “up to 40 per cent of the cost [of al-Shabaab’s] army of 5,000 people”, according to Andrea Crosta, a director of EAL and co-author of a 2011 report into the links between poaching and terror groups.[6] Al-Shabaab has another important source of funding, which is the charcoal industry. It is estimated that al-Shabaab exports charcoal worth $500,000 per month to the Gulf states. Yet, the booming trade in charcoal with the Gulf states has been affecting the environment since nowadays there is vast deforestation in the areas under al-Shabaab’s control in south Somalia.[7] Another example in point is the Islamic State, which took control over oil fields in Syria and Iraq. These oil fields serve as a very important source of income for its activities and make it the richest radical Islamic organization in the world. Thus, its oil income can be between $1 million to $3 million a day.[8]

In addition, radical Islamic organizations are also using the environment and natural resources as a weapon in their fight against local opposition groups. For example, the Islamic State has been increasingly using its control of water facilities, including four dams along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as a weapon to displace communities or cut them off supplies. At the same time, they have been pressing to expand their control over Iraq’s water infrastructure, and especially, Iraq’s largest dams – Mosul and Haditha.[9]

Finally, radical Islamic organizations have launched attacks against energy infrastructures as part of their war against the local regimes and the West. The first radical Islamic organization to launch such an attack was al-Qaeda. As part of its war against local Arab regimes and the West, al-Qaeda launched a suicide attack against the MV Limburg, a French 157,000-ton crude oil tanker, in the Arabian Sea on October 6, 2002. On February 24, 2006, it launched an attack against Saudi Arabia’s giant oil processing facility at Abqaiq, which failed. This was the first direct attack by al-Qaeda on a Saudi oil installation.[10]

Other radical Islamic organizations which launched attacks against energy infrastructures include  the Abdullah Azzam Brigade, which in July 2010 launched a suicide attack against the Japanese oil tanker MV M. Star in the Strait of Hormuz, injuring a crew member.[11] Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been launching attacks against oil fields and pipelines in Yemen since oil is one of the main sources of income for the Yemenite government.[12] As of 2011, as part of its fight against Israel and the Egyptian regime, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which is active in the Sinai Peninsula, launched repeated attacks on the gas pipeline supplying gas to Israel.[13]On January 16, 2013, Katibat al-Mulathamin (the Masked Brigade), which is a splinter group of the al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb under the command of Mokhtar Belmokhtar, launched an attack against the Tigantourine gas facility, which supplies 10 per cent of Algeria’s natural gas production.[14]

Summary

All these above mentioned instances show that in the last decade or so, the radical Islamic organizations have “discovered” the environmental factor and have been using it to promote its aims both in the ideological level and in the practical level. Not only they have joined the global environmental discourse concerning climate change and regarded it as yet another opportunity to blame the West for global injustices while stressing the role that an Islamic state ruled by the Shari’ah may play in checking the crisis, but they have also taken advantage of the impacts of climate change and its control over natural resources as both a source of income and recruitment of people for its cause as well as a weapon vis-à-vis the local population, the local Muslims regimes and the West.

Thus, it is very important to understand that the rise of radical Islamic organizations and the eruption of the conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere during the last decade or so have been driven and caused not only by political, economic, social, religious and ethnic tensions but also by the environmental factor.

The role played by the environmental factor in exacerbating existing problems to a boiling point is not new, especially within pastoralist societies in the Middle East and Africa who throughout history used to compete with agricultural societies and with rival groups over the control of and access to natural resources, such as water and land. Yet, nowadays, the importance of the environmental factor in the process of eruption of current conflicts and the rise of radical Islamic organizations has increased tremendously, especially since it is coupled with huge population growth and, as a result, with rising population stress over dwindling basic natural resources in levels unsurpassed ever before.  Furthermore, the inability of the states in Africa and the Middle East to address the impacts of climate change in particular and environmental issues in general has also turned the populations against their governments and helped radical Islamic organizations to convert some of them to their cause.

To sum up, although military intervention and the very difficult task of addressing the core political, ethnic, religious, economic and social issues may restore stability in Africa and the Middle East and may curb radical Islamic organizations in the short term, climate change will continue to play a major role and increase instability among these countries’ poor, especially the agricultural and pastoralist societies. As a result, there is also a need to focus on environment and resource dimensions of actual and potential conflict situations as a resource in helping stabilize these countries and curb radical Islamic organizations in the long term.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] This is an introductory article to the subject of radical Islam and its use of the environment in order to promote its aims. I have also started to work on a book on this subject, which will cover all the radical Islamic groups throughout the world which have been using the environment in order to promote their aims.

[2] See on-line at:http://www.khilafah.com/images/images/PDF/Books/EnvEng.pdf

[3] See on-line at:http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2010/01/20101277383676587.html

[4] See on-line at: http://www.africareview.com/News/Climate-change-fuels-Nigeria-terrorism/-/979180/1334472/-/vq4tja/-/index.html

[5] See on-line at: http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/sahel-africa-climate-change-security-poverty-burkina-faso-439

[6] See on-line at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/illegal-ivory-trade-funds-alshabaabs-terrorist-attacks-8861315.html

[7] See on-line at: https://globalecco.org/financing-al-shabaab-the-vital-port-of-kismayo

[8] See on-line at:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/07/28/baghdadis_hillbillies_isis_iraq_syria_oil_terrorism_islamic_state

[9] See on-line at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/islamic-state-jihadists-are-using-water-as-a-weapon-in-iraq/2014/10/06/aead6792-79ec-4c7c-8f2f-fd7b95765d09_story.html

[10] See on-line at: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/al-qaeda-attack-on-abqaiq-the-vulnerability-of-saudi-oil

[11] See on-line at: http://cimsec.org/jihad-sea-yemen-al-qaedas-new-frontier/9733

[12] See on-line at: http://www.criticalthreats.org/yemen/aqap-and-suspected-aqap-attacks-yemen-tracker-2010

[13] See on-line at: http://www.islamistgate.com/663

[14] See on-line at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Amenas_hostage_crisis

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Climate Change in Tunisia’s Constitution: A Model for African and Middle Eastern Countries – Dr. Moshe Terdiman

April 16, 2014

Climate Change in Tunisia’s Constitution: A Model for African and Middle Eastern Countries

By Moshe Terdiman

RIMA Environmental Papers, Volume 1 (2014), Number 1 (April 2014)

Introduction – Environmental Clauses in Tunisia’s New Constitution

On January 26, 2014, the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly passed the new constitution, which took more than two years to draft, by a 200-12 vote with four abstentions. Tunisian President, Moncef Marzouki, and the outgoing Tunisian National Constituent Assembly President, Mustapha Ben Ja’far, signed the document on January 27, 2014, bringing it into effect.[1]

The constitution, praised as one of the most progressive in the region, especially for its provisions on health care, women’s rights and gender equality, also obliges the state, under the opening preamble, to “contribute to a secure climate and the protection of the environment to ensure the sustainability of our natural resources and the sustainability of safe life for future generations”. Moreover, under Article 45 the new constitution obliges the state to guarantee “a sound climate and the right to a sound and balanced environment”, and “provide the necessary means to eliminate environmental pollution”.[2]

Furthermore, the new constitution includes articles dealing specifically with natural resources, sustainable development, and water. Thus, under Article 12, “the state shall seek to achieve sound use of natural resources, balance between regions, social justice and sustainable development, with reference to development indicators and in accordance with the principle of positive discrimination”. Article 13 specifies that “natural resources are the property of the Tunisian people, and the state exercises sovereignty over them on their behalf. Investment contracts related to these resources shall be submitted to the competent committee of the Chamber of the People’s Deputies. Agreements ratified in relation to these resources shall be submitted to the Chamber for approval”. According to Article 44, “the right to water shall be guaranteed. Conservation and the rational use of water shall be a duty of the state and society”.[3]

In order to make sure that it meets its obligations, the National Constituent Assembly created the Committee for Sustainable Development and the Rights of Future Generations. According to Article 129 in the new constitution, “the Committee for Sustainable Development and the Rights of Future Generations shall be consulted on draft laws related to economic, social and environmental issues and on development planning. The committee shall give its opinion on issues related to its specializations. The committee shall be composed of members possessing competence and integrity. They undertake their functions for one six-year period”[4].

Climate Change Embedded in Tunisia’s New Constitution

The climate clause was proposed and authored by Dr. Dhamir Mannai, who serves as a member of the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly as well as of the NGO Climate Parliament[5]. He authored it with the help of the Climate Parliament and the United Nations Development Programme. The climate clause passed with near-unanimous support from the Assembly: 144 votes to 0, with 4 abstentions.[6]

Following the passage of the new constitution, Dr. Dhamir Mannai said on January 27, 2014, that “this opens the door for legislation for both the environment and climate protection. As MPs we wanted to tackle the issue head on, and then tackle it through climate legislation, and hopefully put us in a position where we can demand the other countries to do the same”.[7] He explained that his initiative was based on the observation that climate warming has been for years affecting snowfall levels in the northwest as well as the pace of encroachment by the desert in the south. He said that “the purpose is to anchor a new vision of sustainable development that is inclusive of all parts of the country and of the needs of future generations”.[8]

In addition, he linked the successful revolution against the autocratic rule of Zayn al-Abidine Ben Ali to the Tunisians’ need to face the challenge of climate change. He said that “the passage of our new constitution is a cause for celebration for many reasons. Having successfully challenged an autocratic regime, Tunisia is now ready to face up to a different kind of challenge: that of climate change. The work of the Climate Parliament and the UNDP has been vital in raising awareness amongst Tunisian legislators of the severity of future energy and climate issues, and Article 45 will now help ensure that our country shows the same fortitude in combating the climate threat as it displayed in overcoming oppression”.[9]

Ms. Hasna Marsit, a fellow member of the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly who helped draft the climate clause, added that “as the first such initiative after the Arab Spring, it represents a break from the inadequate policies of the past regarding sustainable development, and the first step towards building an effective climate policy which combines long term vision with a comprehensive and regionally-blind approach to sustainable development”.[10] She further said that “the new constitution recognizes that Tunisia is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The predicted northward expansion of the Sahara desert over the course of the 21st century could pose an existential threat to the Tunisian people, who live mostly in a narrow strip of fertile land to the north of the desert”.[11]

The Climate Parliament’s Chairman, Sir Graham Watson, said that “Tunisia’s struggle for freedom and justice has already provided an inspiring example to millions across the Middle East. With the passage of the new constitution, the country now leads the Arab world again, this time on the vital issue of climate change. The commitment and vision displayed by Tunisian legislators in addressing future climate threats cannot fail to set another heartening precedent for governments and legislators around the world”.[12]

Indeed, Tunisia has become the third country in the world — after Ecuador and the Dominican Republic which had included climate change in their constitutions in 2008 and 2010 respectively — and the first country outside of Latin America to embed the importance of addressing climate change into its constitution.[13]

Summary

But the question remains whether constitutionally recognizing the threat of climate change is enough of a step to help tackle it.

On the one hand, climate change and its impact are among the most significant problems faced by Tunisia. A March 2013 World Bank report titled “Tunisia in A Changing Climate: Assessment and Actions for Increased Resilience and Development” said that “Tunisia is and will continue to be impacted by climate variability and change mainly through the adverse effects resulting from increasing temperatures, reduced and variable precipitation, and sea level rise… Climate change impacts are projected to increase water scarcity, the frequency of droughts and flooding. These impacts in turn negatively affect livelihoods and human well-being especially of vulnerable people and sectors, and Tunisia’s arid and coastal areas in particular”. Therefore, the same report stressed that “without meaningful action, climate change will deepen the already significant poverty and unemployment in the country and may unravel the development gains made in recent decades contributing to food insecurity and political instability”.[14]

Additionally, in their February 2013 report titled “The Arab Spring and Climate Change”, Caitlin E. Werrell and Francesco Femia emphasized that “in the Arab world, climate change has acted as a threat multiplier, exacerbating environmental, social, economic, and political drivers of unrest, including drought, water scarcity, food security, and migration, and it will likely continue to do so as the countries of the Middle East and North Africa region transition and change. In this context, addressing the effects of climate change in the Arab world will be critical for ensuring the longer term stability of the region and legitimacy of its respective governments. As Arab publics demand voice and representation, they will also demand that their governments provide them with the resources necessary not just for protection and survival but also for growth and prosperity. If mitigating climate change and adapting to its effects is not integrated into the policies and plans of new and existing governments, and if the international community does not assist in this endeavor, the social contract between citizen and government in the Arab world will likely not improve, and the stability and prosperity of the region may erode”.[15]

On the other hand, climate change will most likely be down the list of immediate priorities for the Tunisian government, with unsolved issues such as unemployment, rising prices and the need to reassure foreign investors and allies competing for their attention making the top of this list.

According to Wassim Chabaane, the president and founder of the “Association Tuniso-Méditerranéenne de l’Environement” and a technical coordinator at GIZ/Sweep-net, climate change is a lower priority in Tunisia also compared to the more immediate environmental challenges of bin sorting, industrial and marine pollution, and water scarcity.[16]

To sum up, In order to keep political stability, the Tunisian authorities will have to improve the Tunisian’s quality of life. Rises in taxes, poor infrastructure and health services, high unemployment, increasing food prices, budget deficit and corruption – all these can trigger unrest and lead to another revolution. Nevertheless, if the current Prime Minister, Mehdi Jomaa, and the technocrat government succeed in creating opportunities for economic growth, poverty alleviation, tensions alleviation, and improvement of the socio-economic situation in Tunisia, using also, among other strategies, policy options that address climate change mitigation and adaptation, it might be able to create the so-called Tunisian m

[1] See on-line at: http://thinkprogress.org/security/2014/01/27/3206701/4-ways-tunisia-progressive-america/

[2] See on-line at: http://www.marsad.tn/uploads/documents/TnConstit_final_1.pdf

[3] See on-line at: http://www.marsad.tn/uploads/documents/TnConstit_final_1.pdf

[4] See on-line at: http://www.marsad.tn/uploads/documents/TnConstit_final_1.pdf

[5] The Climate Parliament is an international network of legislators “dedicated to preventing climate change and promoting renewable energy”. For more details see its website: http://www.climateparl.net/home.do?lang=en

[6] See on-line at: http://www.climateparl.net/cp/386&lang=en; http://science.time.com/2014/01/29/tunisia-recognizes-climate-change-in-its-constitution/

[7] See on-line at: http://www.rtcc.org/2014/01/27/tunisia-embeds-climate-change-in-constitution/

[8] See on-line at: http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2014/01/28/Tunisian-Constitution-Seeking-a-new-departure.html

[9] See on-line at: http://www.climateparl.net/cp/386&lang=en

[10] See on-line at: http://www.rtcc.org/2014/01/27/tunisia-embeds-climate-change-in-constitution/

[11] See on-line at: http://www.climateparl.net/cp/386&lang=en

[12] See on-line at: http://www.climateparl.net/cp/386&lang=en

[13] See on-line at: http://www.rtcc.org/2014/01/27/tunisia-embeds-climate-change-in-constitution/; http://science.time.com/2014/01/29/tunisia-recognizes-climate-change-in-its-constitution/

[14] See on-line at: http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2013/03/22/000333037_20130322111826/Rendered/PDF/761860PUB0EPI00LIC00pubdate03020013.pdf

[15] See on-line at: http://climateandsecurity.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/climatechangearabspring-ccs-cap-stimson.pdf

[16] See on-line at: http://www.tunisia-live.net/2014/03/07/pioneering-environment-article-in-tunisias-constitution/

THE DAY AFTER TOMMOROW – by GWYNNE

August 31, 2011

The Day After Tommorow

THE DAY AFTER TOMMOROW[1]

by GWYNNE[2]

Given the fast deterioration of environments around the world environmental education needs to focus on ensuring that people understand that the destruction of the environment is not tomorrow’s problem but one which we will in our lifetimes have to deal with. Environmental degradation must be seen not only as an environmental concern but as a growing threat to sustainable development and poverty reduction. The effects on the environment cannot so much be reversed but mitigated. The harsh truth is that even if global carbon emissions, water/ soil/ air pollution and deforestation stopped tomorrow the world would still be faced with the massive challenge of adapting to changes in the environment caused by these factors.

There is urgent need for realistic adaptation options to reduce the vulnerability of the environment, strengthen income generation techniques and national economies, as well as produce coping mechanisms to deal with current, environmental disasters and future changes in rainfall patterns, reduction in food and water security; decreasing natural resources due to over use, shifting vector-borne diseases; rising sea levels affecting low-lying coastal areas with large populations. Adapting to present and future environmental changes would require developing systems capable of absorbing the current shocks and at the same time integrate future change risks.

One of the main concerns; climate change, is not something that will occur at an appointed date. Climate change has begun and already the effects are being felt. The consequences of other environmental concerns, pollution, deforestation resulting in desertification, ozone depletion are also already taking their toll. In as much as global carbon emissions, water/ soil/ air pollution and deforestation are driven by global economy and world politics they will conversely also have a negative effect on economies and social development. Although Africa is least responsible for climate change, it is particularly susceptible to the effects, including: reduced agricultural production, worsening food security, the increased incidence of both flooding and drought, spreading disease and an increased risk of conflict over scarce land and water resources. Africa is vulnerable due its overdependence on rain-fed agriculture, compounded by factors such as widespread poverty and weak capacity. This has significantly reduced the competence of poor households in Africa to cope with shocks of extreme environmental events.

A relevant example is, Somalia which is currently experiencing almost all types of environmental concerns, both natural and man-made. While there is little that can be done to prevent such things as drought, the famine element is avoidable. A case in point is that of the drought in Southern Africa 1991/1992 where drought and other natural disasters did not end in famine, this is pertinent because this is an example from developing countries that have succeeded in avoiding famine during lengthy drought. The drought placed millions of people at risk of starvation. A mix of politics, drought, preparedness, and means of adaptation is the cause for the famine in Somalia, whereas in Southern Africa these factors where controlled in order to avoid a famine.

One of the main concerns with the dilapidation of the environment is that if at all it is, it is not easily reversible. Mitigation and adaptation is the only way forward. Adaptation to environmental change should be understood as a continuous process which addresses current problems and extremes and future risks. Thus, for African governments in particular, managing environmental risk must rapidly shift from a purely environmental concern to addressing a growing threat to development. The evidence from past experience suggests that this is best achieved through integrating environmental issues into government policies and protecting the most vulnerable. Environmental education needs to focus on ensuring that people understand that the destruction of the environment is not tomorrow’s problem but one which we will in our lifetimes have to deal with. Today and tomorrow maybe all right but what about the day after?

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[1] This article opens a series of articles on “Environment and Humanitarian Disasters in Africa”.

[2] Gwynne is a new research fellow in Green Compass Research. Ms. Mhalanga can be reached at – gwynne04@gmailcom

Philippine Muslims Form Network to Confront Climate Change

October 25, 2010

October 3, 2010

A group of Muslim Filipino scientists, religious leaders, academics, and activists recently formed a network intended to confront the issue of climate change to Muslim communities during a round table gathering convened by the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)at the Imperial Palace Suites in Quezon City.

The roundtable discussion on Muslim Action for Climate Change(MACC) was supported by the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) and the Magbassa Kita Foundation, Inc.

The Muslim leaders agreed to support the initiatives of the global Muslim Seven Year Plan.

Action Plan on Climate Change 2010-2017 (M7YAP) approved during the historic conference on climate change held in Istanbul from July 5-7, 2009, wherein 200 Muslim leaders committed to spur action to protect the natural environment and combat climate change.

The Muslim leaders gathered at the roundtable on MACC agreed to establish their Philippine network to respond to the challenges of climate change and to support the initiatives of the M7YAP as well as work with the global MACCA.

Climate Change and the Muslim World Climate change is increasingly seen as the most critical challenge facing the world today. The Islamic world is particularly vulnerable to climate change because of the effects of rising sea levels, with their effects on Muslims living in coastal communities.

Patterns of drought and rainfall are also expected to change, with enormous consequences for human populations. For the Philippines, studies have shown that many of the areas that are highly vulnerable to projected temperature increases; impacts of El Nino events, salt-water intrusion and sea level rise are in Muslim Mindanao.

With the more than 5million Muslims that are in harm’sway, the participants to the lastweek’s Muslim Action for Climate Change RTD expressed the need to engage and mobilize scientists, scholars and environmental organizations to conduct research and information and education activities on climate change and environmental sustainability.

For instance, studies by Greenpeace and data from the National Statistics Coordination Board (NCSB) show that the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is ranked first among all regions in terms of vulnerability to a one-meter rise in sea level.

Sulu inparticular is the most vulnerable province in the country in terms of vulnerability to a one-meter rise in sea level.

A Response from Muslim Filipinos, PCID President Amina Rasul explained that the formation of MACCA-Philippines is actually the response of Muslims in the Philippines to the Muslim Seven Year Action Plan for Climate Change (M7YAP) that wascrafted in Istanbul, Turkey in June 2009 for all Muslim countries.

“Our people are most vulnerable, since oursituation is compounded by the armed conflict and poverty pervasive in our communities,” Ms. Rasul said, “we need to act, we need to respond, as individuals and ascommunities.”

The plan, drawn up by Earth Mates Dialogue Centre, an NGO based in London, and supported by Alliance of Religions and Conservation or ARC, as part of the UN/ARC Seven Year Plan Initiative, proposed investigating every level of Muslim activity from daily life to annual pilgrimages, from holy cities to the futuretraining of Imams.

Its network also issued a declaration expressing their willingness to put forward a united Muslim front to take action against thecatastrophic consequences ofclimate change.

The Istanbul conference proposed the establishment of the “Muslim Associations for Climate Change Action” or “MACCA” as an umbrella organization to manage the attainment of proposals under the M7YAP.
Part of this action plan was the convening of the First International Conference onMuslim Action on Climate Change in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia last April 9-10, 2010 where 200 environment experts, academics and clerics from 30 countries with Muslim population.

From the Philippines, Ms. Rasul and Dr. Filemon G. Romero, Professor of Oceanography of Environmental Science of the Mindanao State University in Tawi-Tawi were invited as resource persons.

The lead organization in South East Asia is the KEHATI Foundation for Biodiversity of Indonesia, which hosted the first international conference for MACCA in Bogor.

The Bogor conference stressed that Muslims should become agents of change to protect the environment with the help of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

Participants called on the OIC to promote climate change policies and setup a special council to take the lead on climate change issues, a conference said.

The initiative received support from various government officials who attended the forum.

DENR SecretaryR amon Paje, represented by Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio, Jr. lauded the efforts of Muslims to unite and join the global effort to combat the negative impact of climate change.

“The DENR will fullysupport this initiative by ourMuslim brethren,” Sec. Paje said.

Senate Committee on Climate Change Chair Sen. Loren Legarda stressed the need to provide a global response to the global menace that is climate change and congratulated the convenors of MACCA-Philippines for their effort.

Sen. Legarda, who is known for her advocacy of the environment and the rights of Muslims in the Philippines,i nvited the group to brief her committee on the MACCA initiative.

Climate Change Commission Vice-Chair Sec. Heherson Alvarez, meanwhile, said that the commission is fully committed to strengthening grassroots initiatives such as MACCA-Philippines as a way of helping government harness the nation’s resources in its fight to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Former Representative Nereus Acosta, principal author of theClean Air Act, the Clean WaterAct, the Solid Waste Management Act, and the Biodiversity Protection Act, expressed the hope that MACCA-Philippines can help in changing the mindset of politicians, officials and the people in general in addressing the problem of climate change.

He noted that while laws andaction plans have been crafted with respect to climate change, it is important to educate and inform the people not just of the terrible consequences of climate change but how one can contribute to arrest its harmful effects.

The declaration on Muslim Action for Climate Change, which wassigned by allthe participants, cited the fact that the Islamic faith considers “all men andwomen as Allah’s vicegerents on earth.”

The signatories to the declaration expressed their willingness to contribute “their expertise and necessary resources” to fully support the ideals and initiatives of the Muslim Association for Climate Change Action (MACCA) and the Muslim Seven Year Action Plan on Climate Change 2010-2017.

The participants also agreed to establish the Muslim Association for Climate Change Action in the Philippines (MACCA-Philippines). They agreed to work together to research and develop programs to address the problem of climate change, in cooperation with the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources, the Presidential Commission onClimate Change and other national as well as international institutions. Press Release

This piece is taken from the website of Zamboanga Today Online.

See on-line at: http://zamboangatoday.ph/index.php/news/13-top-stories/1036-philippine-muslims-form-network-to-confront-climate-change.html

Climate Change: A Call for Personal Changes

March 21, 2010

The reality of climate change calls for a re-evaluation of our actions and a redirection of our energies towards the reduction or possible reversal of the looming environmental crisis. Religious leaders are challenged to look into their traditions for any inspiration that could guide us towards averting this global disaster. This new demand on old traditions forces us to look creatively at the world’s religious heritage and reinterpret or reapply sacred texts and principles to our present problem. It is surprising, however, that the texts of the Islamic religious tradition speak directly on many issues that are pertinent to our problem. Hence the task for the Muslim expositor here is not so much a reinterpretation of the traditions, but mainly a reapplication of old texts to new problems.

To begin with, the Quran calls on us to recognise our own contribution to the crisis:

Corruption doth appear on land and sea because of (the evil) which men’s hands have done, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return. (Quran 30:41)

According to the verse cited, God is giving us a taste of our own medicine so that we may return from the wrong directions we have taken in life. If we are to reverse the deterioration of our environment then we have to make some hard choices and change our practices. In other words, ecological change calls for personal change.

Conservation
Wastefulness is a major contributing factor to our present woes, hence the sudden awareness of the benefits of reducing, reusing, and recycling waste. But this reminds us of some Quranic cautions. For example: “But waste not by excess: for Allah loveth not the wasters” (Quran 6:141, Yusuf Ali translation).

The principle of conservation is illustrated by the following rule, noted in many basic texts relating to Islamic acts of worship: while making ablutions in preparation for prayer we should be abstemious in the use of water even if we have a river at our disposal. When this rule was first formulated, its practical benefit may have been puzzling; today it is all too plain. Muslims following this rule must, over time, cultivate due regard for water and other natural resources as divine provisions.

The Sanctity of Planting Trees
The beneficial nature of trees to our ecosystem is now widely known. It may be noted in this regard that the planting of a tree is regarded in the classical Islamic tradition as an act of continuous charity, the most desirable sort of good deeds. The Prophet Muhammad, on whom be peace, said that if one plants a tree then whatever is eventually eaten from it whether by humans or animals counts for the planter as a an act of charity. The importance of planting trees as a good deed is highlighted in another tradition which says that if one has on hand a sapling ready to be planted and the Day of Judgment arrives one should go ahead and plant it.

The Equilibrium of All Life
Furthermore, Muslims believe that all creations of Allah, including animals and trees, glorify God in their own way.

Seest thou not that to Allah bow down in worship all things that are in the heavens and on earth,- the sun, the moon, the stars; the hills, the trees, the animals; and a great number among mankind? (Quran 22:18)

Islam also teaches humans that all creatures of God, whether it be the tiny ant or the huge lion, serves a certain purpose in the larger scheme of God’s world: “There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you.” (Quran 6:38)

This divine notion, which came more than 1400 years ago, reinforces the scientific concept of ‘chain of life,’ with each species depending on another and together maintaining the balance of life on earth. God reminds us in the Quran not to tamper with His divine balance (here referred to as ‘measure’) by reminding us, “And the sky He hath uplifted; and He hath set the measure, that ye exceed not the measure, but observe the measure strictly, nor fall short thereof.” (55:7-9) Hence, irresponsible deforestation and wanton killing of even the tiniest of God’s creatures is strongly discouraged in Islam.

Man: Trustee and Vicegerent
Moreover, there are some general Islamic concepts which serve to reinforce these observations. One is the belief that everything within our possession and which we conveniently call our property is not only provided by God but ultimately belong to Him. On this belief, what we have is merely placed in our trust, and must be preserved and delivered back to God in the best manner possible. The following Quranic verse emphasises the point: “Believe in Allah and His messenger, and spend of that whereof He hath made you trustees; and such of you as believe and spend (aright), theirs will be a great reward.” (Quran 57:7) The imperative towards charity here is premised on the belief that we are mere trustees of the wealth in our possession. Muslims will naturally extend this belief with regards to all the natural resources within their ambit.

Related to this idea of trust is the concept of vicegerency. In the Quran, God says: “Then We appointed you viceroys in the earth after them, that We might see how ye behave” (Quran 10:14). The behaviour of those who cause corruption on earth is well noted: “And when he turneth away (from thee) his effort in the land is to make mischief therein and to destroy the crops and the cattle; and Allah loveth not mischief” (Quran 2:205). According to the Quran, God made well everything he has created: “Who made all things good which He created” (32:7). And we are commanded commanded to keep it that way: “Do no mischief on the earth, after it hath been set in order” (7:56).

A Call for Change
Failing to follow the Quranic injunctions, we have, of course, upset the ecological balance. And it is up to us to set it right again. This will require great effort, and courageous personal change. We need to do our best to restore and preserve the balance in nature; to take up our responsibility as viceroys of God and hence as custodians, stewards, and trustees in whose trust God has placed the resources we enjoy. We need to maintain the ecosystems that harbour the dazzling array of life forms God has created, including animals, birds, insects, and plants. But the required personal changes are sometimes simple and manageable. We can easily reduce, reuse, and recycle waste. We can to a large extent conserve our use of water and other natural resources. We can in some small way reverse the process of deforestation by planting one tree at a time. It is time to pay better attention to the principles set forth in God’s message, including this one: “Man shall have nothing but what he strives for” (Quran 53:39).
We have caused corruption on land and sea, and it is up to us to mend our ways. Our present crisis calls on religious leaders to find faith-based messages that will inspire the faithful towards a heightened environmental awareness. We have seen that there is ample content in the sacred traditions of Islam to meet this need. What remains to be seen is the extent to which we will rally to this call for personal change.

Shabir Ally
July 28, 2009

This article is taken from the website Why Islam?

See on-line at: http://www.whyislam.org/SocialTies/EnvironmentandIslam/tabid/347/Default.aspx