Fasting for the Climate – A Growing Movement


Photo available on @CIDSE Twitter page.

Climate change isn’t a remote possibility — people are already feeling its impacts. In the United States, Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and the great drought in California are the most obvious examples. But abroad, in less developed countries with less access resources, the effects of climate change are even more stark, like the effects of Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Phillippines, which killed thousands.

To stand in solidarity with all those who have been impacted by climate change, religious leaders and environmentalists have launched a fasting movement. It’s their way of expressing their hunger for climate action. And it couldn’t come at a better time today as leaders from around the world gather on the first day of the two-week climate talks in Lima, Peru.

“Though the teachings of all the world’s spiritual leaders remind us of what is essential, still we fall again and again into greed, heedless of the destruction it brings,” said Sujato Bhikkhu, Australian Buddhist monk of the Theravada forest tradition, International Network of Engaged Buddhists. “The developed nations of the world, having consumed far too much and given back far too little, are seemingly determined to keep on consuming the earth until there is nothing left. This goes beyond immoral, and boders on madness.”

The fast actually began last December at the UN climate talks in Warsaw, when Phillippines negotiator Yeb Sano stopped eating to express his solidarity with the people affected by Typhoon Haiyan and demand progress in the negotations. Although the Warsaw meeting saw little progress, with countries like Japan actually winding back their climate commitments, Sano’s movement grew. Thousands have joined Sano and have kept fasting one day a month since.

Now, with the recent deal between China and the United States to curb carbon pollution, an added a sense of momentum surrounds the Lima climate talks and many are hopeful that real progress can be made. But with more and more people around the world being affected by storms, flooding, and droughts, religious and environmental leaders want to keep the pressure on countries to act. They hope to make the opening day of the Lima talks the biggest climate fast in history.

And its looking like leaders of the fast might just achieve that goal. According to reports on Twitter, over half the population of Tuvalu fasted today. And all the New Zealand Youth Delegation members are taking part.

The movement also wants to increase the momentum. Instead of fasting once a month, they plan to have one person fast every day from the talks in Lima this December, to the talks in Paris next year. The chain of 365 fasters will spend two months on each continent, starting in Latin America and finishing in Euorpe, and will include secular as well as religious people of all traditions.

To learn more and get involved check out #fastfortheclimate and sign up to show your support. When excess and overconsumption has wreaked such havoc on the Earth, the idea of fasting for a day actually seems like a welcome respite.

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About the Author

I'm an organic-eating, energy-saving naturalist who composts and tree hugs in her spare time. I have a background in environmental law, lobbying, and field work. I believe in God; however, I do not call myself a Christian or a Jew or a member of any religion. I am merely someone who finds a spiritual connection to all humans and the environment. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .