This weekend saw record amounts of people taking to the streets in the MENA region calling for climate action, including 800 in Beirut despite the recent terrorist attacks.  Hundreds more gath-ered in other countries including Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen and Afghanistan, calling for a legally binding agreement with clear long term goals to be delivered at the COP21 in Paris.

Many of the Arab league countries have submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contri-butions (INDCs) ahead of the conference, as such IndyACT is calling on them to become climate leaders and work towards the ideals laid out in the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change during the COP21.

“The Arab countries, despite being heartland of the global oil industry, need to take this seriously by setting strong targets and moving us towards 100 percent renewable energy systems. If the leaders fail to act now, their countries will be heading down irreversible paths in the form of climate impacts,” stated Safa’ al Jayoussi, Head of climate campaign at IndyACT.

The region showed its climate leadership via the Islamic Climate Declaration from August this year which saw Islamic leaders from across 20 countries urging the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims to make climate change a priority issue. In releasing such a call Muslim leaders joined a global choir from all walks of life demanding action, and calling for a complete phase-out of fossil fuels in favour of a 100 percent renewable future.

Drafted by an international team of Islamic scholars, the declaration has been endorsed by more than 60 participants and organisations including the Grand Muftis of Uganda and Lebanon. It urg-es governments to deliver a strong, new international climate agreement in Paris and signals the end of the road for fossil fuels, by creating the necessary architecture that could limit global warming above pre-industrial levels to 2DegC, demanded by the world’s most vulnerable nations.

During the next two weeks, developed and developing countries must come together to shift toward renewable energy systems and deliver with ambitious solutions during the climate negotiations. Some countries from the MENA region have already started to move ahead, Algeria has set its goal at reducing overall emissions somewhere between 7 and 22 percent by 2030. Other countries in the Middle East and North Africa that don’t have big oil deposits, like Jordan, Morocco, and Lebanon, have filed their pledges. Morocco, which is hosting the 2016 climate conference, is aiming to reduce emissions by over 30 percent by 2030.

However, while these are good examples of nation plans, they in themselves do not deliver a binding climate agreement.  IndyACT urges all of the regional countries including Saudi Arabia, to put their national agenda behind them and answer the call of the people and deliver a new climate treaty that will achieve the necessary changes needed to stem run away climate change globally.

“Climate change is one of the greatest threats that is facing MENA region – and the World – con-tinued dependency on fossil fuel and not shifting to renewables will only impact the future generations even harder. We need our leaders to act now,” Safa’ al Jayoussi concluded.

We’re blogging from inside the COP21 summit in Paris – follow our updates here

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