And so did thousands around the world.
Yesterday was 1 June, the first day of the month.
And on the first day of the month until December, people all over the world are fasting.
We are going without food for one day each month:
- in solidarity with those impacted most by climate change, and
- as a call for world leaders to do more to tackle the climate crisis.
Fasting is a long-standing tradition in both spiritual and civil contexts.
- It is a practice that is observed in many religious traditions. ‘For religious people, fasting is a sign of re-thinking how we live our lives, of repenting and of re-committing ourselves to a responsible and sustainable way of life,’ says Ms Caroline Richter, Lutheran World Federation Youth secretary.
- Fasting is also a tried-and-tested method of non-violent protest with a view to obtaining a specific goal.
We are fasting for governments to take real action on climate change. And by ‘real action’ we mean actions like:
- dramatically reducing emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane;
- moving to secure, renewable energy supplies for everyone; and
- stopping broad-scale clearing of natural forests.
Fasting is a powerful way that people from all walks of life, from all over the world, can send a message to governments. #fastfortheclimate is a growing movement of people who are showing how strong their commitment is to calling for action on climate change – and they’re doing it by fasting.
Already, millions of people have been affected by climate change. Some have been killed. Some have lost their homes. Some have lost their livelihoods.
And those impacts of climate change will only get worse as global warming and ocean acidification get worse.
Now is the time to act on this crisis. The life-support systems of our planet are already changing, with noticeable effects. And the ‘window of opportunity’ for taking action to reduce those changes is diminishing.
Yet government action remains profoundly inadequate towards a safe and just future for people and the planet.
That’s why we are fasting.
We fast on the first day of each month up to December 2014.
Fasting for one day each month is a gesture that, in the words of one participant, enables each of us to be ‘closer to my neighbours. This is one of the reasons why fasting once a month is interesting: it raises one’s awareness on a regular basis and not only when extreme weather events happen.’
And we are fasting until December 2014 because that is when crucial United Nations climate talks take place in Lima, Peru.
The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP20) is part of a negotiating process started in 1995 for global agreement on how to tackle climate change. It will be the most important meeting yet because climate change is here and accelerating.
As well, in the lead-up to that make-or-break meeting are two important preparatory meetings:
- In September 2014, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is holding a climate summit in New York. He is inviting Heads of State, Heads of Government and business, finance, civil society and local leaders.
- In October, the People’s pre-COP will take place in Venezuela. It aims to bring all elements of civil society together to forge a unified vision and to link civil society demands to the inter-governmental processes.
These meetings are very important for a united approach to the climate crisis. And because the participants are acting on our behalf, to come to a binding agreement that will make a real difference it is vital that they hear about how important people all over the world think it is. Fasting is a proven way of getting people to take notice.
There are two elements that will make #fastfortheclimate successful.
The numbers and range of people involved is vital for its success in influencing governments. This serves 2 purposes:
- The greater the range and number of people who publicly support the action, the greater the likelihood that governments will have to take notice. Registering on the #fastfortheclimate website allows numbers of participants to be counted. And the participation of prominent leaders and organisations such as the Climate Action Network (CAN), the World Council of Churches, the Global Call for Climate Action, Avaaz, 350.org, Friends of the Earth, Forecast the Facts and the Climate Justice Network adds reach and gravitas to the mission.
- Fasting as a community means that all the people involved can support each other. We are not going through the difficulties of making significant sacrifices on our own. We build community by reaching out to each other – and by reciprocating to others as they reach out. While some people may choose to join a physical community for their fasting, most people will join others via social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
How we personally go about our fast is also important.
#fastfortheclimate provides some basic guidance to fasting.
I opted to undertake the most common type of fast: a fast from food.
Fasting in this manner as a protest is also known as a hunger strike…and for good reason: you do feel hungry.
And it’s those hunger feelings that serve to remind us what life is like without food…such as in the aftermath of an extreme weather event or from inadequate food supplies – both of which will be more common as a result of climate change and ocean acidification. The hunger pangs help us feel solidarity with those who will be most affected.
With all those wonderful ideals in my mind, I jumped in enthusiastically. And I shared it with the world on social media.
But I forgot that I have a tendency to hypoglycaemia, even though I’m not diabetic. I was reminded of this late in my day of fasting when I started to go into a ‘hypo’ that took me several hours to break. Next time I will need to keep my blood sugar levels up with the occasional lolly or sweet drink and to break my fast with something similar.
Or I could undertake a carbon fast through actions such as not taking a car, not using electronic devices, or by consuming only climate-friendly food.
Will you join us in #fastfortheclimate to urge all world leaders to work together in order to ensure the planet is a safe and better place for future generations?
Till next time…be gentle to yourself and our world!
UPDATE: #fastfortheclimate continues and continues to grow as more and more people call for world leaders to do more to solve the increasingly urgent climate crisis.
UPDATE June 2017: links to Fast For The Climate removed because the website is no longer operational.