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Fasting for climate change progress

18 November 2013 | by Frances Witt 

At the United Nations climate talks in Warsaw last week, I watched Yeb Saño, head of the Philippines delegation, give a passionate speech.

He announced that he would fast throughout the two weeks of the nineteenth annual Conference of the Parties (COP 19), or until sufficient progress is made in the UN climate negotiations.

Yeb Sano among a crowd of people

Yeb Saňo among a crowd of journalists and supporters. Credit: CAN International

Fasting in solidarity

Many people are fasting in solidarity, and like them, I’m not eating between breakfast and dinner.

Yeb Saňo emphasised civil society’s role in securing progress in the climate negotiations. And civil society has taken his speech to heart.

Thousands of activists are now fasting alongside him and communities around the world that are most at risk from climate change.

Compared to Yeb’s commitment, skipping lunch isn’t a big deal. And compared to those suffering in the aftermath of the typhoon, it is insignificant. But, as a symbolic gesture, as a sign of religious conviction or of resistance, fasting has a long and rich history.

By joining the fast you too can demonstrate your solidarity with the people of the Philippines and your commitment to addressing climate change – which, in turn, can help us influence proceedings here in Warsaw.

Addressing climate change

Here in Warsaw, Christian Aid is pushing for:

  • countries to increase their commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 2020
  • more money to help communities adapt to climate change
  • the creation of an international mechanism to pay for the loss and damage to poor communities and vulnerable countries caused by climate change.

Typhoon Haiyan has graphically demonstrated the importance of such a mechanism.

Join us

Please join the fast and tell Ed Davey MP, Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, to ensure there is a meaningful outcome at the UN climate talks.

Pray in solidarity with the Philippines

God who hears,
We shout out, not holding back,
Calling for the madness to end,
For the bonds of carbon dependency to be loosened,
For those oppressed by greed to be freed,
For the yoke of economic primacy to be broken,
For those in parched and flooded places to have their needs satisfied.
May justice break forth at the UN climate change negotiations.
May the fasting we do today make our voices heard on high.

As you fast, consider praying:

  • for the UN Climate Change talks to be effective, for leaders to agree to reduce carbon emissions and finance measures to help poor countries
  • for strength and perseverance for Yeb Sano and others who are making a stand on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable
  • for the people of the Philippines affected by Typhoon Haiyan who are searching for loved ones, food, shelter and medicine.

About the author

Frances Witt

Frances Witt is international advocacy adviser for Christian Aid

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