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G7 MUST NOT MISS VITAL OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE CLIMATE PROGRESS

The Group of 7 started life as the G6 in 1975, and grew to the G8 in 1998 until 2014 when Russia was expelled after the annexation of Crimea. The 2016 G7 meeting in Tokyo begins today with a special focus on climate adaptation and the financing of emerging countries. With only 17 countries (of 197) having so far ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change accounting for just 0.04% of global emissions; it is more important than ever to ensure emerging countries have the ability and support required to meet the criteria of the Agreement.

 

This year’s meeting will look at four areas of climate change and the environment; biodiversity, marine litter, energy infrastructure in Africa and G7 progress on climate adaptation. The meeting has already been mired in controversy, with Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States collectively supporting coal projects worth over USD$42 billion since 2007. Being the host, Japan has come under mounting criticism for its plans to build over 40 new coal based power plants despite decreases in domestic electricity demand.

 

The Ishe-Shima Progress Report released prior to the meeting acknowledges the urgent importance of action on climate change and recognises the risks posed to development efforts if climate change is not addressed. However, the environmental track record of the participating countries shows a severe lack of the required commitment. Combined emissions stood at over nine thousand MtCO2 in 2014 and the plans laid out in the Paris Agreement barely keep global temperatures below 3 degrees let alone the 1.5 degrees required to stave off massive environmental and humanitarian destruction.

 

The Paris Climate Change Agreement signed in 2015 laid out essential targets for the future sustainability of the planet. Without meeting these targets we run an almost 100% risk of devastating global catastrophes including the loss of large numbers of Pacific Islands and low-lying lands such as Bangladesh and the Mediterranean Coast, unprecedented super storms across South-East Asia and the Caribbean, extensive desertification and drought across Northern Africa, Europe and North America and a huge loss of biodiversity.

 

But what would happen in a world warmed by 3 degrees? Well here are several catastrophic changes that become high risk occurrences if temperatures are not kept below the 3-degree level:

 

  • A significant portion of the Amazon Rainforest becomes savannah, killing millions of plants and animals and sending thousands of species careering towards extinction. The loss of trees also means the planets ability to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide is reduced by as much as 10%.
  • Rainfall in Central America falls by 50% causing mass drought, desertification and famine.
  • Central-South Western USA and a vast expanse of Africa centred on Botswana suffer severe desertification and the formation of sand dunes in once fertile plains.
  • Annual hurricanes begin to exceed the maximum level 5 category currently assigned in extreme cases.
  • Water flow in the Indus Valley reduces by 90%.
  • The melting of Himalayan ice reduces the flow of five major river basins essential to global food supply (Indus, Ganges, Mekong, Yangtze, Brahmaputra and Yellow).
  • The Arctic Ocean becomes ice free during summer limiting the territory of thousands of Arctic animals including the Polar Bear.
  • The majority of the worlds coral reefs will become extinct and suffer from severe bleaching removing a vital link in the oceanic food chain.

 

However, all is not bad news. The Report outlines small but significant steps made by the G7 countries towards protection of biodiversity and reduction of emissions. In 2011 Japan pledged USD$1.4 billion towards biodiversity protection with Germany contributing upwards of €500 million a year and a combined USD$11.5 billion has been pledged by the group to aid in climate change adaptation.

 

The UK is yet to ratify the Paris Agreement, however the G7 meeting will hopefully provide enough impetus for the government to accelerate proceedings. Available resources for renewables are abundant in the UK, with hundreds of miles of coastline perfect for off-shore wind farms and the harnessing of tidal energy and with advances in solar technology significant amounts of energy can be harvested even from the British weather. Unfortunately, over the past few years’ environmental sustainability and renewable energy has slipped down the government agenda. Renewable energy subsidies have been cut by more than 65% while there has been an increase in subsidies given to the oil industry, this very week land in Yorkshire has been opened up for fracking, a dangerous and environmentally hazardous practice. Air pollution in major cities has been worsening for years and plans are in motion to approve building on protected green belt land. The G7 is important because it will provide a platform for the UK to re-commit to the Paris Agreement and to lay out further plans for sustainable development, hopefully reversing some of these decisions or at least limiting their extent. Any promises made during these two days can be used to put pressure on politicians to act quickly and decisively.

 

In order to hold governments accountable for any commitments made during the meetings both domestic and international public pressure is crucial. Over the next few days as governments outline their contributions and reports from the meetings are released it will be important to watch what is happening carefully and ensure that tangible actions are taken from the G7 to ensure a safe, sustainable and carbon neutral future.

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Local Government and Pension Scheme

Millions of people around the UK are part of The Local Government Pension Scheme which allows local government to decide how best to invest their pension money. It also means that if the local population do not agree with how their money is invested they can hold their counsellors to account with the threat of losing their job at the next election, strikes, petitions and other pressures.

This system ensures that British citizens have much more control over their pensions than they would have under a centralised system. This also means that minorities have a greater voice in their own affairs, the BME community often have a greater proportional voice in the Local Authority  than at the Central Government level.

In November 2015 the Tory Government announced plans to give the ‘power of intervention’ to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which would effectively remove people’s power to have their pensions invested how they want – or stop them being invested in ways they don’t want.

So what does this mean in reality? It means that if a Local Authority decided they no longer wanted to invest their pension funds in companies involved in dirty fuels, the arms trade  or any other industry the local people are opposed to the Central Government could block this decision, effectively putting the wants of large corporations above the wishes of the local people. The biggest repercussions of this fall on the BDS  movement which David Cameron has openly declared resistance to saying “we will always oppose boycotts [of Israel]”.

This is a direct attack on local democracy, taking away a critical tool for people to speak out against government policy. Why need the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government be able to intervene in how Local Authorities invest their money if not to protect  Central Government’s interests at the expense of local people?

Muslim Climate Action disagrees wholeheartedly with this attempt to restrict the voice of local people and especially the profound effects this will have on minority communities all over the UK. In a democracy we should be able to affect decisions on how our money is invested  and this attempt to take that right away is unscrupulous, unfair and undemocratic.

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Internship 2016

We are looking for an intern to support the work of MCA. This year,  2016 is an important year for climate change campaigning. With world leaders having met for the UN Summit in Paris just at the end of 2015, it’s important that the movement keeps going to ensure government lives up to its promises.

We want to ensure that Muslim communities are represented in the discussions and here are a list of things we’ve done so far:

  • Launch at Houses of Parliament with distinguished guests
  • Scripted and produced a video to showcase to the wider community
  • First ever Jummu’ah Prayer in Parliament Square!
  • Green Torch campaign to educate Muslims about Climate Change
  • Statement signed by over 50+ leaders and presented at House of Lords
  • Interfaith moment at People’s March for Climate, Justice & Jobs in front of 60,000-70,000 people
  • Delegation of Muslims from across the UK went to mobilise in Paris for COP21

The internship is an excellent opportunity for an individual who is interested in gaining experience, skills and contacts within the campaigning and environmental sectors.

You do not need any specific experience – we are just looking for someone with:

  • Demonstrated interest in climate change and environmental issues
  • Excellent administrative, written communication and organisational skills
  • Commitment to seeing the role through to the end

The internship is for 1 day per week for a period of 6 months at Bounds Green.  Travel and lunch expenses will be paid.

Main responsibilities

  • Support steering committee members to organise events and campaign activities
  • Take minutes at MCA steering committee and member meetings.
  • Respond to enquiries about MCA
  • Write news stories and articles for the MCA website and other sites
  • Maintain electronic administrative systems for MCA

To apply, please submit a CV and covering letter of no more than 2 pages to info@muslimclimateaction.org.uk and put in subject “MCA Internship 2016”.

DEADLINE: 5pm Thursday 28th January 2016

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MCA hands in Leaders Statement to UK Government

The statement was handed in to the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, at a reception in the House of Lords on Thursday 26th December to mark the beginning of the #COP21 Climate Summit in Paris.
 
Speaking at the event, Lord Bourne alongside Baroness Joyce Anelay, Minister of State of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, reiterated the importance of reaching a strong global climate deal in the Paris talks and thanked all the individuals and organisations who have helped Britain progress up to this point.
 
Shanza Ali, Chair of the Muslim Climate Action, alongside other members handed in the statement to Lord Bourne to demonstrate the support from the Muslim community in reaching a strong climate deal for Britain during the Paris Climate Summit. The Muslim Climate Action statement was signed by 150+ Muslim community leaders and members around the UK. You can read the statement here: http://www.muslimclimateaction.org.uk/what-we-want/
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Muslim Climate Action joins the UK’s biggest climate march 

MCA joined the UK’s largest ever climate change march this Sunday calling on the British government to step up its efforts against climate change and help transition the world to 100% renewable energy, to save the planet from the ravages of dangerous climate change. The People’s March for Climate, Justice and Jobs was organised and supported by over 60 NGOs and organisations in the run up to UN Climate Talks in Paris to be held this week.

MCA and its supporters convened ahead of the march at the Westminster Synagogue for an interfaith service where leaders of different faith communities stressed the need for all faiths to work together on the issues of climate which unites us all.

MCA members including MADE, Islamic Relief, Global One, IFEES, Muslim Charities Forum, Human Appeal and Muslim Aid marched together in solidarity as an interfaith bloc. This allowed for representation of true diversity for the climate movement and showcased a visible Muslim presence including banners with the Hadith “The earth is green and beautiful and Allah has appointed you stewards over it.” and the Qur’anic verse “Allah does not change the condition of people until they change what is in themselves.” [Qur’an – 13:11].

 

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MCA Members: Islamic Relief, Human Appeal and IFEES

Environmentally concerned leaders from the three Abrahamic faiths addressed the crowd at the final rally. Speaking together, Shanza Ali (Chair of Muslim Climate Action), Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner (Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism), Dr Ruth Valerio (Churches and Theology Director, Arocha UK) said “Our relationship with the earth is like our relationships with each other. Every relationship, every person, every life, is precious, and a gift from God that we must treasure. So too we must treasure our relationship with the world. We shoulder the responsibility that comes with stewardship over this planet. 

Shanza Ali (Chair of the MCA) went on to say“It’s very crucial that we showcase support on issues around the climate, jobs and justice. in light of what’s happened in recent weeks, it’s very easy to get sidetracked but we want to ensure the government knows that the Muslim community is serious about climate and we will rally together until we get the change we need.”

The march was the largest of more than 2,200 climate events around the world, timed to coincide with the beginning of the Paris for the UN Climate Summit starting on 30 November. The march that had been planned in Paris itself was cancelled by the French authorities.

The London People’s March for Climate, Justice and Jobs was organised by a diverse group of over 60 UK organisations, including Christian Aid, CAFOD, World Jewish Relief, Islamic Relief, MADE, Tearfund, Quaker Peace and Social Witness and Oil Vay.
For more information or to request an interview, please contact shanza@made.ngo

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MCEC & Palmers Green Mosque Receives Recognition Award

MCA visited MCEC and Palmers Green Mosque on Saturday 28th November to deliver an assembly on climate change.

As the first Mosque and organisation to host the #GreenTorch since its launch in Houses of Parliament in September, the 200 young people and their parents were asked to try and commit to small lifestyle changes in their daily routine as Islam teaches us.

The mosque and centre received an award for being the first hosts of the GreenTorch and Sheikh Talat is also well known for his commitment to the environment and climate change and the driving force behind it. Palmers Green Mosque is one of the first mosques in London to have installed solar panels on their rooftops, which MCA was privileged to visit on a private tour with the committee members. Lots of green spaces and herb gardens means that young people and worshippers are exposed to environmental issues and how it affects them, thus learning how to tackle them.

 

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Statement Hand-In and Green Torch Goes Global!

In the run up to #COP21, Lotifa Begum hands in the UK Muslim Climate Action Statement!

The statement was handed in alongside with other faith petitions from around the world to the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres signed by over 100 UK Muslim activists and mosque leaders urging governments to take action as COP21 begins. The Green Torch also made its way to France and was a key feature of the event.

Lotifa states: ‘The most vulnerable communities are most affected by climate change as I saw myself in Bangladesh. This solar powered torch represents the green teachings of Islam that has travelled across the UK to Paris calling for a greener and sustainable world.”

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People’s Climate March 2015

Join MCA for the People’s March for Climate, Justice and Jobs!

Muslim Climate Action will be taking part in the People’s March alongside religious leaders, NGOs, young professionals, students and community members, as well as thousands of others from the UK speaking out together for climate justice on the streets of London the day before crucial Climate Talks begin at COP21 in Paris (see details below).

Date: Sunday 29th November
Time: 12.15pm

Venue: Kent House (Westminster Synagogue), SW7 1BX

https://www.facebook.com/events/1051178891581934/

Our faith teaches us that Allah has placed humans as stewards (khalifah) of the earth to protect and safeguard His creation. We recognise that the poorest people around the world including here in the UK are suffering the worst effects of climate change which is a huge injustice.

As active members of Muslim communities living in the UK, it is our duty to speak, act and collaborate with like-minded people to tackle the most dangerous threat to human life and our planet.

“Oh you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor…” [Qur’an 4:135]

There will be a social afterwards at the Islamic Relief offices in Waterloo with activists from various organisations. Please do join us! Food and drink will be provided.

Ways to get involved!

1. Spread the word about the People’s March and come with friends and family and be part of the MCA bloc!
https://www.facebook.com/events/1051178891581934/

2. Attend placard and banner making sessions ahead of the march organised by MADE from 5.30-8pm (casual drop in sessions) every Tuesdays and Fridays at the MADE office at East London Mosque, Whitechapelhttps://www.facebook.com/MADEinEur/photos/a.10150216033152127.311870.132176847126/10153035972537127/?type=3&theater

3. Receive the Green Torch! And deliver our Khutba/session on climate change with your society/organisation to create awareness and interest:http://www.muslimclimateaction.org.uk/

4. Promote the march on social media: use the @MuslimCAction handle and ‪#‎Muslims4Climate‬ hashtag at the march on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
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This year, 2015 is the year that can change history!

The important COP21 Climate Talks start in Paris on 30th November will give us an opportunity to potentially win a legally binding agreement on climate change!CLIMATE MARCH

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Newest Member hosts Green Torch at #SOL2015 Concert Tour

Human Appeal our newest members to MCA has hosted the #GreenTorch in its Sound of Light Concert Tour.

Alhamdulilah the tour started off with the #GreenTorch in Glasgow (Scotland) making its way down Manchester and then Bradford on the first leg of the tour. The second leg of the tour consisted of cities Birmingham, Peterborough and London!

The tour itself meant that over 2,000 people from across the UK experienced the #GreenTorch and became more aware of the issue around climate change. Not only that but the audience were also able to view the MCA video and how they themselves could directly get involved and take action to move towards cleaner and more sustainable energy.

Celebrities such as Na’eem Raza introduced and hosted the #GreenTorch along with comedian AliOfficial and nasheed singers Kareem Salama, Harris J, Saif Adam and Mesut Kurtis.

 

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#GreenTorch in Glasgow (above)

 

 

 

 

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The #GreenTorch in the North

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#GreenTorch making it’s way to the Midlands and South 🙂

Photo credits: Human Appeal

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Muslims gather for the first Friday sermon held at Parliament Square

 

Muslim Climate Action (MCA) held the first ever congregational Friday prayer at Parliament Square on Friday 9th October as a demonstration of a strong and united voice from British Muslim communities calling for change and action on climate change.  The prayer took place as part of the Global Day of Action against Dirty Energy.

The public sermon was delivered by Imam Abdullah Hasan, who highlighted the importance the Qu’ran places on the preservation of the earth and the role of humans as stewards. It also outlined proactive steps that Muslim communities can take to mitigate the effects of climate change and campaign for a greener and more just world.

Imam Abdullah Hasan commented “I am passionate about educating our community on climate change and what we can do as individuals. As God mentions in the Qur’an, ‘God will not change the condition of a people as long as they do not change what is in themselves’. We are servants of the earth and our communities and must take the necessary steps to protect our future.”

As the congregation of over 500 men and women began their prayer a powerful message was sent out with the words “#Muslims4Climate” visible on the backs of the congregation. The hashtag has been trending globally with Muslims showing their support for climate following the launch of the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change in Istanbul in August this year.

The public sermon and prayer at Parliament Square is the first of its kind and marked the arrival to London of the ‘Green Torch’ which is travelling to different cities and mosques nationwide who are supporting the green Muslim movement. The ‘Green Torch’ is part of a campaign that urges Muslims to lobby the government on reducing dirty energy and switching to renewable sources.  MCA has developed a statement demonstrating the support of Muslim leaders, activists and communities in addressing climate change.

“The support and feedback from the Muslim community has been overwhelming. The endorsement of many leading figures in the Muslim community of the statement shows that many realise the significance of moving towards cleaner and greener energy” commented Sarah Javaid, Chair of MCA.

With Muslim communities in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sudan often at the forefront of the effects of global warming, the MCA is aspiring to bring the Muslim community together in tackling the issue alongside people of other faiths and backgrounds as part of the growing movement of people concerned about climate change.

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Ends

Notes to editors:

  1. For more information, photos and interviews contact Ruji Surjan on ruji@made.ngo or 0208 127 6110.
  2. The MCA is founded and made up of leading UK Muslim organisations: MADE, IFEES, MCF, Global One and Islamic Relief, who are all pioneering the way on issues of climate change from the Muslim perspective. For more information see muslimclimateaction.org.uk.
  3. Photo credit: Rooful Ali – www.rooful.com
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