The Lord Marland, Britain's Under Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, is today hosting leaders and ambassadors from a number of Middle Eastern nations, along with representatives from nations with significant Muslim populations farther afield (Southeast Asia, Nepal, Kosovo...) to launch the first worldwide guide to a greener Hajj.
The event, a conference which takes place at the House of Lords, is organized by the House of Lords in conjunction with EcoMuslim, a UK-based non-profit environmental organization founded by Omar Faruq.
Lord Marland is giving a presentation at the conference explaining potential ways to "go green" during the pilgrimage.
Some topics on the conference's agenda include the Mecca Metro (pictured) - a high speed train built in November of 2010. Passengers can help reduce CO2 emissions by taking the 11-mile light-rail system instead of the buses or cars; this will also help eliminate some of the heavy traffic congestion in the city.
Other suggestions for going green include installing solar panels and reusable drinking water bottles. As always there are also the recommendations of: use less water, use less electricity, and recycle when possible. Some groups of people have also mentioned the possibility to leave earlier in the season so they may travel slower; taking a bus is a way to group travel and cut down on the CO2 emission per person.
However, Faruq stresses that he is not seeking to place green alternatives ahead of health issues. With the 2009 Hajj swine flu outbreak, health still remains a top priority.
In 2010, just under 1.8 million foreign visitors travelled to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj, a near doubling since the mid-1990s.
Matthew McDermott, "The First Worldwide Green Hajj Guide & Eco-Mosques in Qatar: More on Islam & The Environment" Tree Hugger September 14, 2011
Joni Northam, "Conference for a greener Haj" BikyaMasr September 13, 2011
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today