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Reconciling Islamic Ethics, Fossil Fuel Dependence, and Climate Change in the Middle East

  • Saleem H. Ali (a1) (a2)


The dominance of fossil fuel economies in the Middle East with large Muslim majority populations has led to a recurring question about the role Islamic ethics might play in galvanizing action on climate change. However, the perceived clash of economic values versus environmental norms in Islam deserves more careful examination. This brief article considers the advent of the “Islamic Declaration on Climate Change” which was promulgated in 2015 and considers the tangible steps Muslim government leaders and civil society have taken on this matter. The tangible steps that are being considered with an action plan are discussed in the light of earlier environmental movements within Islam. A brief discussion of environmental norms within Islamic scriptures is also provided to give theological context to this narrative. The establishment of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in the UAE as a treaty-based organization with United Nations affiliations is also considered. The environment can play an important peace-building role in the region as exemplified by organizations such as Eco-peace in Palestine, Israel, and Jordan. Based on the analysis of these developments, it is likely that Muslim countries will continue to play a more proactive role in addressing climate change than they are often given credit for in popular discourse.



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