The largest mosque in Scotland was recently solarised in order to drive down its carbon emissions and encourage buildings of worship to step up their fight against climate change.
“As stewards of the earth, it is our moral responsibility to do everything we can to protect our planet and ensure it is preserved for future generations. For too long, we have overlooked this fact and it is now time to realise our obligations and act,” said Irfan Razzaq, General Secretary of Glasgow Central Mosque.
“Today marks an important step in tackling this and ensuring that the UK’s Muslim community plays an important part in this existential battle. With more than 1,500 mosques across the country, Muslims can play a leading role in our transition away from polluting fossil fuels and ensuring we can all cut our emissions and meet our 2050 targets.”
Energy savings from the solarisation will allow the mosque to fund other community initiatives such as an urban food growing project to further reduce carbon emissions. The mosque has also committed to hosting annual awareness sessions for the local community on the dangers of climate change and the importance of green energy solutions.
The initiative, funded by the international aid organisation Islamic Relief and announced during the COP26 climate conference, will see 130 solar panels installed with the aim of cutting out an estimated 18,000kg per year of CO2 emissions.
“The solarisation effort of this iconic building – located right across the river from where world leaders are meeting at COP26 – must encourage actions on a global scale. We hope it sparks a domino effect for a wide variety of places of worship to cut their emissions and act as beacons in the fight against climate change,” said Tufail Hussein, Director of Islamic Relief UK.
“Climate change is already wreaking havoc. Our teams are seeing first-hand the human misery it is causing on a mass scale – millions of people are being displaced, millions more are on the brink of famine as harvests fail. With 80 percent of the world adhering to a faith, it is critical that faith leaders take a stand against the pillaging of our planet.”
In recognition of these efforts, the Glasgow Central Mosque has been selected as part of a major Greenpeace Middle East and North Africa’s Green Mosques initiative, highlighting the huge potential that solarising major mosques around the world can have in cutting back greenhouse gas emissions and setting an example for other communities.
“This project shows the real potential that the Muslim Ummah has to be part of the solution to the worsening climate emergency. Beyond just the direct environmental benefits of ‘greening’ these places of worship, the ability to act as centres of culture and spirituality means they exert huge influence on people and communities,” said Nouhad Awwad, Project Campaigner on Ummah for Earth at Greenpeace Middle East and North Africa.
“This is a wake-up call for political, community and faith leaders of our Ummah to step up and take the environmental impact of their communities more seriously, reminding people of their responsibilities towards their fellow humans and the natural world as stewards and protectors of the earth.”
Islamic Relief and Greenpeace MENA, as part of the Ummah for Earth Alliance, expect the greening effort to spark “domino effect” among religious communities across the world.
A detailed report with analysis calculating the savings to be made by solarising key sites, such as the Al Nabawi mosque in Medina, Al Haram Mosque in Mecca and Al Azhar Mosque in Cairo, will be released by Greenpeace MENA as part of the organisation’s activities at COP26.
Islamic Relief is using COP26 to urge the UK government to raise its ambition and set up a specialised green fund for houses of worship of all faiths to support their transition to net zero emissions by 2050.
As historical, cultural and iconic buildings are often the most used places for worship and as community hubs, Islamic Relief is also urging the government to set up dedicated dialogue channels with faith leaders to ensure people of faith are properly engaged toward meeting wider environmental and net zero targets.