Many faiths have a long tradition of putting their beliefs into action and working to protect the planet we all share. What’s new in the twenty-first century is that increasingly, communities of faith around the world are starting right at home, making the mosques, churches, and synagogues where they meet and worship centers for climate action. Talk about inspiration.
To see this trend in action, witness what’s happening in Indonesia, where Muslim communities are making a difference in the lives of low-income communities by bringing climate action to their places of worship.
Last year, Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla announced an initiative to establish 1,000 eco-mosques by 2020. The project encourages an existing partnership between the country’s Muslim community, government officials, and private businesses in the hopes of making a meaningful contribution in the fight against the climate crisis. But for the Islamic community, the efforts hold a deeper meaning.
Islam teaches followers to be good stewards to our planet. Which makes mosques the natural place for this stewardship to begin.
The “[m]osque is the center of religious and community life where not only people go for praying, but also serving other social functions. Given the centrality of mosques in people[’s] lives, it is the perfect place to start promoting “ecoMasjid” or eco Mosques,” and climate action, Dr. Hayu Prabowo, head of environment and natural resources at the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and Climate Reality Leader, told Climate Reality.
Clean Energy for All
Lead by Dr. Prabowo, MUI, Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body, began working with government officials on an eco-mosque program designed to address issues like clean water, sanitation, and clean energy affecting their community.
It’s an approach that’s as practical as it is principled. In a nation comprised of over 17,000 islands, fossil fuel energy isn’t just dirty and expensive – often requiring extensive infrastructure to reach remote communities – it can be deeply challenging. In contrast, renewables like wind and solar offer many island communities the chance to generate affordable energy locally and finally bring electricity to villages long without it.
Because mosques serve as a center for religious, educational, and social activity, there is a high demand for energy. Making the switch to renewables and powering all these activities at the mosque opens up opportunities for communities that otherwise don’t have access to electricity. It also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, creating double the impact by helping combat the climate crisis.
And the connection between clean energy and faith doesn’t stop with Muslim communities. Like these eco-mosques, houses of faith around the world are protecting our planet by making a transition to clean, renewable energy.
By shifting away from dirty fossil fuels, religious centers like synagogues and churches are becoming more energy efficient, lowering their electricity costs while helping reduce harmful emissions. Here are just a few religious spaces and communities thinking creatively with renewable energy:
- The Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota recently installed a geothermal heating and cooling system to reduce energy costs and make services more comfortable all year long.
- Last year Temple Aliyah, a synagogue in Needham, Massachusetts, collected enough energy with its new solar panel array to cover 92 percent of the synagogue’s energy needs.
And in 2006, the Church of England launched the Shrinking the Footprint Campaign to push its 42 dioceses and 16,000 churches to live its values of care for creation, which continues to encourage churches of all sizes to get involved.