There are several environmental challenges facing the world today. These include climate change, energy conservation, intensive farming, land degradation, the depletion of the ozone layer and pollution. These problems have mainly occurred due to human behaviour and there will be adverse effects on our planet if we do not take immediate remedial action collectively to combat the situation.
I was the first Muslim to be appointed a member of the House of Lords by the Conservative Party. I am the Chairman of a number of organisations which include The Conservative Muslim Forum. I am very active in the House of Lords and speak regularly on a variety of subjects. I have said in the House of Lords and at a number of meetings that I am proud of my religion and promote the glorious side of our religion. I have in fact quoted the holy prophet (peace be upon him) and the holy Koran in the House of Lords which has not been done before. We have arranged for halal food to be served in the British Parliament and there is a prayer room in the House of Lords.
I am passionate about protecting the environment and this is the reason I am here in Istanbul. I strongly feel that we Muslims as the Ummah can play a vital role in looking after the planet and everything living in the world which Allah Subhana wataallah has richly provided us with.
In the United Kingdom, large steps have already been taken to try and address the problem of climate change. In November 2008 the Climate Change Bill was passed and thus became part of the law of the country as the Climate Change Act. I actively supported the legislation when this was discussed in the House of Lords and spoke strongly in favour of it. The Climate Change Act passed in the United Kingdom is the world’s first long term legally binding framework to tackle the dangers of climate change. We in United Kingdom have set an example which I hope other countries in the world will follow.
One of the key provisions of the British Climate Change Act is to introduce legally binding targets for emissions. It states that Greenhouse Gas emissions should be reduced by at least 80% by 2050 and CO2 emissions should be reduced by at least 26% by the year 2020.
We hope that discussions at the forthcoming Conference in Copenhagen are fruitful and agreements are reached which are accepted and followed by the international community.
We can combat climate change by investing in the development of alternative energy resources. By looking at other methods of producing energy we will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and thus hopefully reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the burning of fossil fuels.
We need to increase our level of investment, conduct research and undertake projects whereby energy is produced by different methods such as biofuels, solar power, wind power, hydropower and geothermals.
Biofuels are derived from recently living organisms such as plants and animal waste and the energy source is based on the carbon cycle. Biofuel industries are expanding in Europe, Asia and America.
Solar energy has an enormous amount of potential. The manufacture of solar cells has expanded dramatically in recent years but we are only harnessing a miniscule fraction of the available solar energy.
Wind power is another form of renewable energy that we need to look into. The world definitely needs to take a serious look at the possibility of increasing this form of energy production worldwide.
Hydropower is the power that is derived from the force or energy of moving water. Even though it is commonly used there are more potential sites that can be developed to generate hydroelectricity.
Tidal power is the conversion of the energy of tides into other forms of power, mainly electricity. Again this is not widely used but has the potential for expanded use throughout the globe.
Geothermal energy is again another alternative energy source that is currently under-utilised. Geothermal power is extracted from heat stored in the earth. It roughly accounts for around 0.3% of the world’s electricity which shows that it can definitely be expanded upon.
Nuclear energy is a form of energy production that is not renewable but is still a viable alternative to the burning of fossil fuels. In 2007, nuclear power provided 14% of the world’s electricity. The production of energy by nuclear power does however lead to controversy.
Carbon capture and storage is something that can be investigated further to try and reduce the level of carbon dioxide emissions. It is a relatively new concept but it needs to be taken further.
We also need to promote carbon trading arrangements.
As Muslims we have a responsibility towards the preservation of the environment. The Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) has said:
‘The Earth is green and beautiful and Allah has appointed you his stewards over it.’
This emphasises the fact that in Islam, the conservation of the environment is based on the principle that all of the individual components of the environment were created by God, and that all living things were created with different functions. Furthermore in Islam humans are expected to protect the environment since no other creature is able to perform this task. Humans are the only beings that Allah has entrusted with the responsibility of looking after the Earth.
In fact The Holy prophet (peace be upon him) instructed his armies not to harm women and children. He also instructed them not to harm animals, destroy crops or cut down trees. This highlights the fact that he realised the value of nature and the importance of the preservation of the environment.
Climate change is possibly the biggest threat to life on the planet, and some of the effects are likely to be felt in Muslim countries. For example there may be future water crises in the Middle East, flooding in Bangladesh, creation of deserts in sub-Sahara Africa, submergence of the Maldives and much more. All of this may lead to more wars and produce a large number of environmental refugees.
The Muslim 7 Year Action Plan (MY7AP) is a big step towards tackling the massive problem of climate change in the Muslim world. The mission is to “mobilise all the resources of the Islamic Ummah to contribute to the ongoing global efforts dealing with Climate Change based on a 7 Year Environmental Conservation Plan that reflects Islamic Principles and Values”. The MY7AP plays an important role to provide an Islamic vision in regard to climate change and discuss the environmental challenges facing the Muslim world. Not enough has been done in the Muslim world to try and combat climate change and the MY7AP is an important step in this regard.
The action plan is not a talking shop but concrete proposals will be implemented.
The establishment of the MACCA foundation is crucial to the success of the Muslim world’s battle against climate change. The MACCA foundation requires support from all Muslims, both official and non-official, if it is to be effective in its goal which is to work with the Muslim countries to advocate constitutional amendments to include environmental conservation amongst other things. We will hopefully see Muslim countries following the UK’s lead in committing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The MACCA foundation will also develop an annual international prize for research related to environmental conservation and will organize media campaigns to increase public awareness. If successful, the MACCA foundation will be a great asset in the global fight against climate change.
I would like to commend MACCA on the promotion and establishment of the green Hajj.
We need to look at what we as individuals can do to reduce emissions. Climate change unites us all and each and every one of us will suffer if we allow runaway increases in our emissions to further damage an already ailing atmosphere. We all need to protect our forests and everything green. We can undertake home improvements to improve energy efficiency and get into the habit of undertaking a number of simple but common sense tasks which will reduce consumption of energy.
We must remember the fact that as individuals we may not make a big difference to the world, but when all of our contributions are put together, it will result in a big difference being made.