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Hungry for Climate Action: A Moral Call to Act

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On June 1, I will get hungry. I will not eat. I will be joining thousands around the world who are also taking part in #fastfortheclimate every first day of the month until Dec., 1 2014 -- the opening day of the next UN Climate Conference in Lima, Peru.

Why Fast for the Climate?

Last November, when the devastating typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, climate commissioner Yeb Saño was attending the UN climate talks in Warsaw. His own family was caught up in the disaster that killed thousands of people and destroyed homes and livelihoods across the country.

In a moving speech Saño said that he would not eat until the countries represented at the Warsaw conference agreed on actions that would "stop the madness" of the climate crisis. Hundreds of others around the world came out in solidarity, choosing to fast with him.

Nevertheless, the Warsaw meeting saw countries renege on their climate change pledges and seemingly in denial of the fact that all countries will need to commit and contribute to the comprehensive, global climate action plan due to be launched in Paris in 2015.

Since then, "Fast For The Climate" has grown into a global movement that includes youth, environmental and faith-based groups, all of which want to see their governments to take urgent climate action this year.

Fasting -- a Lutheran practice?

Most spiritual traditions have regular fasting once during the religious calendar (for example Ramadan in Islam, Lent in Christianity), and monthly or weekly fasting during the year. There is also special fasting in times of individual or collective crises. King David fasted when his and Bathsheba's child was seriously ill (2 Samuel 12:16.21-23), the people of Nineveh fasted as they heard Jonah's call to repent (Jonah 3:5). Even in the most desperate situations, the prophetic call goes out, "Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning" (Joel 2:12).

Fasting is both an intense physical as well as spiritual experience. Fasting is embedded in and accompanied by prayer. The deep meaning of fasting is to turn our attention to God, to let our hearts and minds be touched by God's presence, and thereby to repent our wrongdoings and to return to God.

"Fasting made climate change real for me, opened my eyes and brought me closer to my neighbors. 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. As long as you share your commitment around you, you help raising awareness about climate change. And that is, after all, what makes your fast matter." -- Martin Kopp, LWF Delegate, France

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus fasted 40 days and nights, experiencing temptations of power and might (Matthew 4:2). This shows how fasting helps to discern the spirits and to trust in the ways that God sets out. The first Christians also practiced fasting together with prayers as they discerned the ways for the Christian communities and their leaders (Acts 13:2; 14:23).

How does LWF work for climate justice?

We understand climate change as an interfaith, intergenerational and international responsibility.

Already in 2010, about 100 youth delegates flagged ecological sustainability as a top priority for the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) whose core advocacy today is climate change. As part of this commitment, the LWF sent a youth delegation to COP18 in Doha, Qatar, in November 2012 and to COP19 in Warsaw, Poland, in November 2013.

The seven young people representing the LWF spearheaded an interfaith initiative to take up Saño's fast so as to underline the urgency to take action for climate justice.

Since then, we have been intensively working together at a global level.

In monthly reflections, Lutherans, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Orthodox, young and old, clergy and lay people from around the world write their stories.

We understand it as a moral responsibility to build awareness for climate justice. As UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres recently said: "Faith leaders need to find their voice on climate change. Religious institutions need to find their voice and set their moral compass on one of the great humanitarian issues of our time."

What can you do?

This ongoing fast seeks to send the message to governments that people from all walks of life and from all corners of the globe expect climate action. Already, millions of people have lost their homes and livelihoods as a result of climate change. Yet government action remains profoundly inadequate in light of the serious threat to the future of people and the planet.

The time to solve the crisis is now: We expect countries to cut carbon pollution and to secure a long-term renewable energy supply. We urge all world leaders to work together to ensure a safe and better planet for future generations.

Follow #fastfortheclimate

You find more information on the official website as well as on the and Twitter @FastForClimate

As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice before participating in any program.

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