Monday, 03 October 2022 09:45

Rapid action required to save the planet

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Rapid action required to save the planet -AP Pic

PRIME MINISTER Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob joined other state leaders in calling for urgent climate change action during his speech at the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, recently.

This is consistent with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change/IPCC's new findings, which state that we can no longer rely on the 2050 target of net zero carbon emissions to keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius because it will be too late for the earth to survive.

A more significant measure to keep global temperatures under control is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 43 per cent, and specifically 34 per cent methane gas emissions, by 2030.

In fact, Malaysia has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 45 per cent by 2030. In other words, timing is critical in preventing climate disasters.

According to 2019 data, Malaysia's GHG emissions increased by 3.44 per cent over the previous year. Waste management is a critical step in lowering methane emissions.

But despite Malaysia's experience with the negative effects of climate change, particularly extreme flooding, it appears that strategies and policies are not being adopted and implemented as quickly as they should be.

This is due to the fact that landfill decomposition is the main source of methane emissions. Malaysia's waste recycling rate, on the other hand, was 28.1 per cent in 2019 and is expected to rise to 31 per cent by 2022.

By 2025, the rate is expected to have risen to 40 per cent. To accelerate the process of reducing methane emissions by 2030, stricter legal measures governing recycling activities may be required.

Declaring a climate emergency is another way for countries to ramp up their efforts to prepare for the effects of climate change.

Wales is the first government to do so.

Around the world, 1,900 local governments and 84 states have declared climate emergencies.

Declaring a climate emergency raises public awareness of climate change, allowing them to act as pressure groups, demanding better action from government officials.

More importantly, it will increase the urgency with which authorities develop climate change mitigation and adaptation plans.

In order to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy, the government, as suggested by some industry players, may need to consider some policy initiatives.

This could include introducing personal income tax relief to encourage the installation of solar panels in residential units, as well as tax incentives for property developers who incorporate solar energy facilities into their projects.

The late Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a renown Muslim scholar in his work, touches on the notion of al-ihsan as one of the underpinning bases of the Islamic guidance for the environmental preservation.

He argues that, basically the most important Islamic injunction with regard to the environment is to pursue the utmost measures (al-ihsan) in preserving nature and all of its aspects including animals, plants, water and air.

This is implied in a hadith that goes: "Verily, Allah has prescribed excellence (al-ihsan) in everything. If you have to kill, kill in the best manner. If you have to slaughter, slaughter in the best manner. Let one of you sharpen his knife, so his animal is spared from suffering." (Sahih Muslim, hadith no. 1955)

In the current context of global emergency, attaining excellent measures and actions (ihsan) in interacting with the environment should be considered a religious obligation on the part of every Muslim.

According to Inga Harmala, there are essentially two types of Islamic environmental movements: weak Islamic environmentalism and transformative Islamic ecology; the former represents initiatives that focus on individual consumption and sustainable consumerism, such as waste reduction or switching to renewable energies and electric vehicles, without making any attempt to change the socioeconomic systems that have caused environmental degradation.

The latter, on the other hand, would be initiatives that acknowledge the inherent flaw in socioeconomic systems and attempt to develop more sustainable systems through transformative measures.

The most basic example of this approach would be a shift toward a circular economy and sustainable agriculture.

In the current context, accelerating all efforts that may contribute to reducing climate change factors such as GHG emissions, especially measures that may address fundamental flaws in our socioeconomic systems represent the transformative Islamic ecology as well as the practice of al-ihsan.

The writer is acting deputy CEO, International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.

Published in: The New Straits Times, Sunday 02 October 2022

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In the past, fasting was attributed to human spiritual belief in worshiping God for meditation reasons. It has been practised for thousands of years in serving various purposes of life. It is still a practice today. Generally, the practitioners are subjected to certain dietary procedure which trains them to be better disciplined to gain better self-control.

Fasting to Muslims is a practice of abstaining from food and drinks, sexual contact, arguments and unkind language or acts from dawn to sunset. It is the fourth pillar of Islam.