The Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) announced on February 16 that more than 45 countries will take part in a 40-day Lenten fast for climate justice, from Ash Wednesday, February 18, to March 28. Participants in the Lenten fast are praying for unity on climate change within the Catholic church and asking world leaders to take all steps possible to meet the goal of a global temperature increase of less than 1.5 degrees Celsius (relative to pre-industrial levels), by means that include a fair, ambitious, and legally binding global agreement in the COP 21 summit in Paris.
On a personal level, the GCCM 40-day fast encourages participants to fast from both food as well as reduce their use of carbon i.e. reduce their use such as oil, electricity, plastic, paper, water, and toxins and recycle during Lent.
The movement chose fasting for its first worldwide action because, “Pope Francis made it clear from the start that all people need to act as ‘protectors of creation.’ We encourage Catholics around the world to unite, pray and fast in solidarity with those who are most affected by the changing global climate,” stated Patrick Carolan, Executive Director of the U.S. based Franciscan Action Network.
Yeb Saño, who is the Climate Commissioner from the Philippines who captured the world’s attention with his own fast during U.N. meetings following Typhoon Haiyan, said: “The power behind fasting lies in its purity of purpose and the sense of selflessness necessary to embark on fasting. This is the power of the fast—because it is meant for our aspirations of a better world.”
Jacqui Rémond, Executive Director of Catholic Earthcare Australia added: “It is important that we call for a strong climate agreement that keeps global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 °C – this threshold was in the first three Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments and also in the IPCC Fifth Assessment report (AR5). A world even at 1.5°C warmer would mean more severe droughts, flooding and sea level rise, increasing the risk of damage from storm surges and crop loss, as well as food and water security issues. Vulnerable human coastal communities and species across the world especially need to be protected.”
Ciara Shannon, coordinator of Our Voices in Asia stated: “Amidst our busy, consumption led lives – fasting during Lent is a great opportunity to reflect and abstain. The GCCM Lenten Fast also includes the option to do a carbon fast. This gives us a great opportunity to think about the food itself, how it is grown, how much water is used, how it is transported and then packaged. It always shocks me the amount of emissions that are involved.”
The GCCM 40 day Climate Justice Fast is part of the 365 day #FASTFORTHECLIMATE which has been happening since the 1st of December 2014 the start of COP20 in Lima and will continue until the 30th of November 2015, at the beginning of COP21 in Paris. The GCCM Climate Justice Fast is also in collaboration with the Green Anglicans Carbon Fast and Our Voices Climate Fast.