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Half a million deaths a year by 2050: Why the mass lobby on climate change matters

Last week, we joined thousands of people of all faiths and none at Westminster, urging our MPs to take a firm stance against climate change as part of a mass lobby against climate change. Joined by lots of Islamic Relief UK supporters, we may not have been the biggest group, but we were definitely the loudest! We were proud to lead a workshop on how to engage faith leaders in the fight against climate change, highlighting how we all need to work together to stem the impact of climate change.

Together with other charitable organisations, government leaders and campaigners, the mass lobby offered the perfect opportunity to voice our views, lobby our politicians and raise crucial awareness of the issue of climate change. The timing of course was critical as the UK Government was discussing an environmental initiative known as net zero – where emissions of greenhouse gases are equal to or lower than the amount we extract. Achieving net zero would make a crucial difference in the fight for climate justice.

Image: Islamic Relief UK attending the mass lobby against climate change (June 2019)

Alhamdulillah, the proposal to achieve net zero has since been enshrined into UK law, meaning that the UK Government has now committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, whereas previously the plan was to only cut down emissions by 80%.

However, Islamic Relief is committed to continuing to put pressure on the UK Government to cut down greenhouse gases to net zero by 2045. As far as we’re concerned, change can’t come quickly enough, if we don’t take action rapidly: the world’s most vulnerable communities will be at even greater risk.

Tackling climate change: The time is now

Image: The devastating impact of the 2018 earthquake in Indonesia

The continuous increase in global warming and the impact it’s having on communities across the globe is alarming. Here in the UK for example, it’s been predicted that heat-related deaths will treble by 2050, resulting in the death of 7,000 people each year. However, the biggest impact of climate change is still felt in the poorest countries in the world, where the lives of people are devastated by more frequent and ferocious storms, floods and droughts. Sadly, the most vulnerable people are frequently the worst affected.

Climate change has an impact on the frequency and scale of natural disasters. And more than 90% of natural disaster-related deaths occur in developing countries. This is because affected communities in poor countries don’t usually have sufficient resources to rebuild and strengthen their country from climate-related disasters.

But climate change doesn’t just cause more devastating floods and drought; some climate scientists also state that the huge volume of rain dumped by tropical cyclones, hurricanes or typhoons can lead to more severe and frequent earthquakes. It’s possible that floodwaters are lubricating fault lines or landslides caused by torrential rains are reducing the weight on fault lines, thus allowing the land to move more easily.

Last year, one of the biggest natural disasters was the 7.5 magnitude earthquake and subsequent 20-foot tsunami which hit Indonesia in September. As a result, a staggering 1,407 people died and a further 71,000 people were forced from their homes.

The sheer scale and impact of such disasters are time and time again showing just how critical the issue of combatting climate change is. We must come together to tackle this prominent issue – before things get even worse. Make no mistake – the predictions are alarming.

Shockingly, experts have now predicted that by 2050, more than 500,000 people a year will die as a result of climate change. What’s more, for communities directly reliant upon agriculture to earn a living or sustain their families, limited or absolutely no access to food and water are already a stark reality. In South Sudan for example, poor harvests in 2018 due to the delay of seasonal rain increased food shortages amongst local communities. Without even basic essentials such as food and water, the future is looking bleak.

Maintaining the balance: The call for sacred climate justice

Image: As custodians of the earth, we should strive to protect the environment – whatever our faith

The sheer scale and impact of climate change-related disasters are clear evidence that we must come together to tackle the growing threat of climate change – before things get even worse. As Muslims, we only need to look at our faith to see how Allah (SWT) has urged us to look after His miraculous Creation.

In one prominent hadith, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) stated:

 “The Earth is green and beautiful, and Allah has appointed you his stewards over it.” (Muslim)

As Muslims, it is our responsibility as caretakers of this world to preserve the environment we’ve been blessed with by Allah (SWT).

This duty is perfectly enshrined in the Islamic concept of mizaan (balance) which calls upon believers to be moderate in all aspects of our lives. In the Qur’an, Allah (SWT) explicitly commands us to respect the sacred universal balance of His Creation: “And be not excessive. Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess” (6:141). This crucially includes how we interact with nature and make use of the Earth’s resources.

We must therefore not only be mindful of our own consumption habits that can have a direct impact on greenhouse emissions (i.e. eating too much red meat and consuming too much dairy; using energy providers that rely on fossil fuels; buying cheap, disposal clothing that uses up vast swathes of water); we must also stand up and call our political and faith leaders to take greater action. We need to continuing to educate members within our own communities and families about how we can collectively work to combat climate change. The time is now to tackle climate change – and we need you to join us in this fight.


If you‘re interested in campaigning with Islamic Relief to help tackle climate change, please email our campaigns team at: [email protected]

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