Asalaamu Alaikum and Marhaba from Marrakech!
I’m writing to you from COP 22, the 22nd Conference of the Parties that serves as the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The “parties” referred to in the conference title are countries that are party to the UNFCCC, and they have been meeting every year since 1995 to negotiate and decide on the best ways to limit greenhouse gas concentrations in a manner that mitigates the effect of human interference with the climate. For a brief history of climate negotiations, visit Texas Impact’s resource page here.
The U.N. has dubbed COP 22 in Marrakech the “COP of Action.” Last year at COP 21 in Paris, the world agreed to take steps to confront the imminent effects of climate change. But it is in Morocco and beyond that world leaders will define what those steps actually are, and how and when their respective countries will take them. The conferences serve as a meeting for both government and civil society leaders, and NGO’s, businesses, and faith groups are represented. As such, I will be writing about events that various Muslim groups are holding at the conference, as well as any initiatives that Muslim countries are putting forward. I have also been connecting with Muslim climate activists to present their perspectives on how local communities can do their part in protecting and preserving our world.
Many participants at COP 22 have been asking about the effect the election will have on U.S. participation in the Paris agreement. It is important to note that formally pulling out of the agreement is a lengthy process that can take three years, with a one-year period of notice for leaving. The Paris agreement also does not bind the U.S. to certain emissions reductions imposed by foreign governments, as any reductions are nationally determined, meaning that the U.S. alone decides how it plans to reduce emissions. The U.S. has a long tradition of working with other world leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and I am hopeful that the passion for climate justice from leaders from all levels of government, businesses, and the civil society will continue unabated in the future.
It is difficult to predict the effect that having a president that has publicly doubted human interference with the climate will have on international climate negotiations, but we must remember that climate action is larger than just one person. National delegations, non-state actors, businesses, and faith communities have all gathered together this year in Marrakech in solidarity with the idea that we must all contribute in one way or another to fight climate change. Humanity’s excessive extraction and burning of fossil fuels that has flooded our atmosphere with greenhouse gases has thrown off the balance of the climate system. It is our duty as Muslims to not only protect that balance, but to try and establish it again once it has been altered.
وَالسَّمَاءَ رَفَعَهَا وَوَضَعَ الْمِيزَانَ
And the heaven He raised and imposed a balance
أَلَّا تَطْغَوْا فِي الْمِيزَانِ
That you not transgress within the balance
وَأَقِيمُوا الْوَزْنَ بِالْقِسْطِ وَلَا تُخْسِرُوا الْمِيزَانَ
And establish weight in justice and do not create deficiency in the balance