Faith leaders call for joint action on climate change: ‘We are all stewards of the earth’

Rabbi Natan Levy engaging with interfaith community at conference. Photo: Samra Said

Rabbi Natan Levy engaging with the interfaith community at the conference. Photo: Samra Said

An East London interfaith network is encouraging faith-based communities to become ‘stewards of the earth’ and collectively lobby the Government to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement.

At an interfaith conference, held at the East London Mosque in Whitechapel last week, Rabbi Natan Levy, 42, said:

“We may not share the same vision of heaven all the time, but we have to share the same Earth.”

Imam Muhammed Al Hassan, 35, another speaker at the event, vowed to facilitate the discussion on climate change and called on other faith leaders to do the same:

“If we go to the government and want to lobby or influence, because if the Muslim community, the Jewish Community, the Christian community, the Hindu Community and people of no faith come together for one cause, it will have a bigger impact.”

The interfaith conference, which also incorporated a fast, coincided with the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22) conference in Morocco.

COP22 marks a significant turning point in the global fight against climate change. It follows on from COP21, where the Paris Agreement called for countries to limit the temperature rise to below 2°C, and even to tend towards 1.5°C.

Shanza Ali, chair of Muslim Climate Action, who organised the event, said tackling climate change required people of all faiths to unite:

“This is that time when I feel that so much is happening around the world that we need unity more than ever and this topic is something that can unite us. For that reason it is even more important that we work with other communities, and we are not insular, and we talk about how this issue affects all of us in humanity.”

Muslim Climate Action (MCA) are a network of UK Muslim organisations who advocate for climate change. They highlight Islamic perspectives on the issue among Muslim communities, the media and wider society.

Al Hassan and Levy made connections between religious texts and caring for the environment, quoting verses from the Quran and the Torah that are explicit on environmental issues.

“I want to go back to my students to teach them, that it is their responsibility, in our society, to better the world, not pollute the earth.” – Imam Al Hassan

They highlighted how fighting climate change is consistent with Prophetic teachings that deem it a religious responsibility to be ‘caretakers of the world.’

Al Hassan pledged to educate the Muslim community on climate change. Currently, over 10,000 people come and pray at the East London Mosque and listen to the Friday sermon. He said:

“I want to go back to my students to teach them, that it is their responsibility, in our society, to better the world, not pollute the earth.”

He reinforced the idea of collective action against climate change. He said:

“Climate change will not discriminate, it is going to attack everyone and so we need to come together, as one voice, exchange resources, ideas and do something about it, and this is what we are doing: raising awareness and becoming Carbon Heroes.”

Tevan emphasised it was imperative that interfaith communities came together with a ‘shared focus’ to a ‘common threat.’

Shannon Green, 21, Operations Coordinator at Global One, an international Muslim women-led NGO charity, is inspiring individuals to become ‘Carbon Heroes.’ At the event, she said:

“We really hope to get as many people as possible to commit to at least one action, the whole idea of MCA really is to pull the resources of our organisations to reach out to Muslim communities and make their voices heard, at a higher level, in terms of climate change.”

A Carbon Hero is someone who has committed to reducing their carbon footprint to help meet the 1.5 degree goal of the Paris Agreement.

The Carbon Heroes campaign was set up to inspire people to make changes in their lives to reduce their carbon footprint and put pressure on the Government to deliver on their climate promises. Carbon Heroes have already collectively offset nearly 300 kg of CO2.

Muslim Climate Action will commission research into government policy commitments for reducing global warming and tackling climate change. The report will look at the unique role of British Muslims in combatting climate change.

It will be completed by March 2017 and will inform the direction of MCA’s future campaigns.

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