If there is one concept which should have sunk into the minds of the Muslim Ummah in the present situation the world finds itself in, it is that of khalifatullah, vicegerency of Allah on Earth.

That is the responsibility given to humanity at creation.

It has great significance for us today with the build up of glasshouse gases as a result of the industrial revolution and universal reliance on air-polluting fossil fuels, which threaten us with huge changes in rainfall patterns, droughts, floods, rising sea levels and rising heat.

Australia has already witnessed its first climate change refugees in the raging bushfire of 2020, flood refugees in Lismore NSW and reports of inland temperatures so high that continued occupation of some areas has come into question.

On 10 April 2023 the ABC reported on the rising sea levels in Fiji, leading to the moving of many villages away from the coast.

The Pacific Islands which Australia claims as its “family” are beginning to be overtaken by rising waters and the salination of farmland.

The new federal government under PM Albanese realises the significance of climate change, winning support from all, including Independents, except from the extremists.

Former head of the ADF, Admiral Barrie, warned that climate change would have devastating effects upon trade, bring more severe drought, and increase demands for emergency services and the military.

In June 2022 the government commissioned the most senior intelligence executive in the country to undertake a study of the national security implications of climate change.

This was delivered at the end of 2022 but has not yet been published as yet. Barrie has called upon the Prime Minister to open it up to the people.

That classified intelligence was used in its production is the excuse for its secrecy but that is not enough reason to hide it. [ Guardian, 5 Apr 2023]

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report of 2023 states that greenhouse gas emissions must be halted if we are to slow down global warming.

It reads: “C.1 Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health (very high confidence). There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all (very high confidence).”

The Morrison government’s shocking reaction to the floods and bushfires of 2020 was noted across the world for its incompetence.

The New York Times in an article entitled “Australia is Committing Climate Suicide,” wrote of the destruction of the Barrier Reef, our kelp forests, our water shortages and our stupendous bushfires, commenting:

“And yet, incredibly, the response of Australia’s leaders to this unprecedented national crisis has been not to defend their country but to defend the fossil fuel industry, a big donor to both major parties — as if they were willing the country to its doom.” [NYT, 3 January 2020]

Although the new Labor government, with pressure from the Greens and Independents, has passed the Safeguard, controlling domestic emissions from both old and new coal and gas projects, it will allow some new projects and it continues our role as the world’s third major exporter of fossil fuels.

What we are witnessing is what Katherine Murphy described as “swimming between the flags” in her Quarterly Essay “Lone Wolf.”

The Labor Party, shocked by its defeat under Shorten at the last federal election, deliberately did not rock the boat with major reform offerings in 2022, allowing the Morrison government to destroy itself in a welter of questionable projects.

David Shearman in “Swimming between the flags” on climate policy threatens our future,” argues that although governments funded by the powerful fossil fuel lobby may have got the IPCC Report watered down, they must understand the effects of what they are doing on the planet. [John Menadue, 4 April 2023]

Even so, he suggests, they may be afraid to act as they could lose elections in those democracies with corrupted media or in the authoritarian states where powerful interest groups could destroy them.

It is the economic South, the Third World, the Pacific Islands which are already suffering from climate change, and it has started to affect Australia.

It is the Indigenous peoples of South America, North America, Australia and also the Pacific who are resisting most stringently the exploitation of their resources and the destruction of their lands.

Perhaps that is why the fossil fuel lobby fears the success of the referendum for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament and why rightwing politicians make jokes about the flooding seas in the Pacific.

Such considerations mean that those who have the awareness of the concept of khalifatullah have a lot of work to do in the years ahead.

The welfare of coming generations is at stake.