Today the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) announced that over 1000 Catholics in over 50 countries have committed to fast and pray for climate action as part of the Lent Fast for Climate Justice. The traditional fast on Ash Wednesday (February 18) commenced the global effort. For every subsequent day of Lent, the GCCM have different countries signed up to fast, in some cases two countries per day.
Since Ash Wednesday, the following countries have completed their fast day: Peru, Zambia, Tanzania, Hong Kong, Nigeria, and Japan.
The first country to fast after Ash Wednesday, Peru, is one of the countries most at risk from climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Emissions Scenarios and Stern Review. Temperatures are calculated to increase in this South American country between 0.7°C and 1.8°C by 2020 and between 1°C and 4°C by 2050.
The other nations that fasted this week also have troubling predictions because of climate change: from more intense typhoons in Japan to lower crop yields in Zambia where agriculture accounts for 20 percent of the nation’s GDP and 71.6 of employment.
This Lent Fast for Climate Justice urges Catholics to unite on climate change. It also calls for decisive action for a fair, ambitious and legally binding global agreement in the COP 21 summit at Paris to keep the global temperature increase below 1.5 degree Celsius, relative to pre-industrial levels. We ask that Catholics in every country pray and fast for our troubled Earth and especially those who are affected most by climate change; the poor and those who live along coastal communities.
After the fast Christian Rafael Ipanaqué Quispe of Lima Peru shared, “This fast was very important to me because it was an opportunity to get in touch not only with God through prayer, but also with his great work Creation, nature. After this experience I am much more committed to promoting environmental awareness within the Church and to share knowledge with my brothers and sisters in faith. We cannot be indifferent to the social, environmental and climatic reality presented to us. We have to act!”
Sister Julia P. McLouglin, a sister of Notre Dame de Namur stated that her inspiration from fasting came from one of her sisters, Sister Dot Stang. “… Sister Dot Stang was martyred in Brazil because she stood up for the peasants in trying to protect their land from wealthy loggers who have chopped the forests mercilessly. She became an irritant to wealthy loggers who then paid some men to kill her. Returning home one evening 3 men were waiting for her. While she read the Beatitudes they put five bullets into her and left her dying. This event has made me more conscious of how wasteful many of us, myself included, can be with the world’s resources and of how precious land is to us – a gift from God.”
The GCCM fast is part of the 365 day #FASTFORTHECLIMATE which began 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. #FASTFORTHECLIMATE participants this week included representatives from diverse environmental organizations in Canada and theUS , including David J. Parker, longtime Canadian politician and Green Party Member. The GCCM Climate Justice Fast is also in collaboration with the Green Anglicans Carbon Fast and Our Voices Climate Fast