Catholics highlight moral imperative of climate action in 40 day fast

40 day fast

Climate faster at COP20 in Lima, Peru. Creative Commons: Adopt a Negotiator, 2014

In a chain of one-day fasts sweeping the globe, Catholics will come together this Lent to raise awareness of climate change.

Organised by the Global Catholic Climate Movement, the 40-day fast will begin in Peru and end up in Botswana, moving through 45 countries including Nigeria Japan, Mexico and Hungary.

The Lenten-fast is part of the 365 day ‘Fast for the Climate’, running from the 1st December 2014 to the 30th November 2015 – when governments will meet in Paris for the next round of the UN climate talks.

Jacqui Rémond, Executive Director of Catholic Earthcare Australia, a group joining the fast, said:

It is important that we call for a strong climate agreement that keeps global temperatures to 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 will 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 coastal communities across the world especially need to be protected.

Fasting carries particular significance for Christians during Lent – an act of remembrance of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert – and this year the Global Catholic Climate Movement will be using the period to highlight the threat of climate change.

Climate-fasters are also encouraged to take part in a ‘carbon fast’, cutting down on their use of fossil fuels and reduce waste.

Yeb Saño, who is the Climate Commissioner from the Philippines, who actions at the COP19 climate conference in Warsaw sparked the global fasting movement, 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.

It is part of a growing movement of faith groups who are speaking out about the threat of climate change.

Faith communities including the United Church of Christ in the US, the Quakers in Britain, and the World Council of Churches have all taken steps towards divestment; the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) is fighting coal expansion; and faith leaders have come together in climate change ‘preach-in’ events and an interfaith summit.


This month’s of solidarity by Catholic groups around the world comes as Pope Francis continues to highlight the moral imperative for climate action, most recently telling Christians that they must be the “protectors of Creation”.

[We must be] careful not to become masters of Creation, but to make it go forward, faithful to its laws… This is the first response to the work of God: to be protectors of Creation. When we hear that people have meetings about how to preserve creation, we can say: ‘No, they are the greens!’ No, they are not the greens! This is the Christian!

This is ‘our response to the’ first creation ‘of God. And’ our responsibility. A Christian who does not protect Creation, who does not let it grow, is a Christian who does not care about the work of God, that work that was born from the love of God for us. And this is the first response to the first creation: protect creation, make it grow.

His latest comments foreshadow his long-awaited Encyclical – or church document – which is expected to warn that climate action is “essential to the faith.”

Pope Francis is increasingly speaking out on the impacts of climate change in order to mobilise not just Christians, but people of faith everywhere ahead of the 2015 UN climate conference in Paris.

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