Vision for Sustainable Future: An Islamic Sustainability Ambitions Club

… the Islamic Sustainability Ambitions Club represents a transformative shift in the fight against climate change, one that holds the promise of greater efficiency, cooperation, and mutual growth.

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Published by BusinessToday, TheMalaysianInsight, AstroAwani & MYsinchew image by AstroAwani.

As nations grapple with the complex realities of climate change, the need to focus on comprehensive, cooperative, and innovative strategies has never been more pressing. Every nation, including Malaysia, has been asked to rise to the occasion by setting ambitious National Development Contributions (NDCs) since the Paris Accord of 2011. Yet, meeting these targets requires discipline, concerted effort, and often, a fundamental shift in societal consumption and production habits.

In these efforts, we find resonance with the profound wisdom articulated in Quran 7:31 – “Allah created a perfectly balanced world on the basis of sustainability and circularity. This balance must be maintained by man acting moderately, thoughtfully and justly. Waste, pollution and destruction are the very qualities that Allah abhors.” It underscores the responsibility we bear as caretakers of this planet and underlines the gravity of our actions.

This year, Malaysia made a commendable stride by amplifying its mitigation ambition with a promise to cut carbon intensity against GDP by 45% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. Yet, as we inch closer to this deadline, the urgency of taking decisive, tangible action is palpable. It is against this backdrop that we propose a cooperative approach towards achieving our NDC goals, instead of taking on these challenges individually.

This leads us to a compelling proposal, an “Islamic Sustainability Ambitions Club.” This would be a coalition of nations including Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Bangladesh, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman. Their unified goal? To work cohesively and efficiently in achieving their respective NDCs by leveraging each other’s strengths and opportunities.

At the heart of the club’s mission would be a robust and transparent adherence to Article 6.2 of the Paris Accord, which addresses double counting in the trading of emission reductions. This significant undertaking ensures that when a carbon credit is sold internationally, greenhouse gas reductions are counted only once. The challenge lies in the implementation of this article, which calls for meticulous bilateral and plurilateral arrangements. Yet, if achieved within a cooperative framework, such as the proposed Islamic Sustainability Ambitions Club, the task becomes far more attainable.

Such cooperative endeavours, also known as Ambition Clubs, are made up of countries that rally together to not only ensure compliance with the Paris Rule Book but also to leverage each other’s potential. The ideal club would comprise nations that are capable of exceeding their NDC commitment and those struggling to meet them. Countries that have greater opportunities for emission reduction than their NDC requirement can transfer them within the group, while making a corresponding adjustment (CA) to ensure no double counting of emissions reduction.

The feasibility and benefits of this proposal are backed by data and extensive research. A report by the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) suggests that members of such an Ambition Club could indeed increase their NDCs without incurring any additional cost than what would have been expended with independent implementation.

Therefore, it seems not only plausible but also beneficial for the Malaysian government to actively consider and pursue this proposal. Such an initiative would symbolize a powerful commitment to sustainable development, echoing the divine call for moderation, thoughtfulness, and justice. Furthermore, it would be a profound gesture if the Islamic Sustainability Ambitions Club could be jointly announced at the upcoming COP28 in Dubai this November.

An endeavour like the Islamic Sustainability Ambitions Club represents a transformative shift in the fight against climate change, one that holds the promise of greater efficiency, cooperation, and mutual growth. It is a bold vision for the future of sustainability within Islamic nations and a proposal worthy of serious consideration. It affirms our commitment to maintaining the balance of this world, reflecting the divine wisdom that calls us to act thoughtfully and justly.

Moreover, the formation of such a cooperative aligns seamlessly with the tenets of Islam, which places mankind as a khalifa, or guardian, over nature. Our duty, as entrusted by our Creator, is to ensure that this invaluable property—the world we inhabit—is passed on to the next generation in as pure a form as possible. Each man, in his capacity as a custodian of nature, is implored to live in harmony with other creatures and the environment that sustains them. Respecting, nurturing, and caring for the environment are not merely acts of stewardship; they are expressions of our faith and obedience to the divine mandate.

Dr Rais Hussin is the president and chief executive officer of EMIR Research, a think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

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