“People of Faith Stand Together”

Interfaith press conference at COP19. Photo: LWF/Sean Hawkey
Interfaith press conference at COP19. Photo: LWF/Sean Hawkey

Interfaith Fasting Initiative for the Climate Continues

(LWI) – Delegations from The Lutheran World Federation (LWF); the international Catholic climate organization CIDSE and the World Council of Churches (WCC) at COP19 hosted a press conference on Friday 22 November to launch a monthly fasting day towards COP20.

Faith groups are calling for a tangible and ambitious outcome to the climate change negotiations.

“Because people of faith stand together,” said Caroline Richter, head of the LWF delegation to COP19.

The latest round of talks at the United Nations climate change conference was meant to lay the foundation for the new global climate accord to be agreed in Paris in 2015. On Thursday, however, 800 NGO representatives walked out on the conference due to lack of progress.

As disputes over targets to lower CO2 emissions continued on Friday, delegates from the major world religions gathered to discuss how to hold negotiators accountable towards a meaningful outcome.

Initiated by the LWF delegation, 28 religious organizations joined an Interfaith Call to Fast for Climate Justice during COP19. The call was officially handed over to the UN Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres on 20 November. “We invite those who are capable to fast for a meaningful outcome here in Warsaw as we head to COP20 in Lima, Peru in 2014 and the urgent cut off date for a binding emissions agreement for all countries at COP21 in Paris, France,” the call says.

Speaking at the 22 November press conference, which was joined by Philippine delegate Yeb Saño, Richter said that “fasting is a voluntary effort to reduce. It is a refusal to feast in an unhappy time. When our neighbor suffers, we suffer. And we believe we can do something concrete to change the condition of our neighbor.”

She continued, “As people of faith we urge the international community to put those most vulnerable communities at the center of attention as they talk about the climate crisis. The commitment to preserve human dignity and the integrity of creation needs to be concrete and tangible.”

The co-signers of the Interfaith Call to Fast for Climate Justice will discuss how they can continue working together as people of faith towards COP20. The monthly day of fasting in the period leading up to COP20 is one of the initiatives in this discussion.

“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. Did we do everything right? Did we consciously choose how to live? Can we change?” reflected Richter.

“This climate crisis is an existential crisis and people of faith now jointly draw on their spiritual resources in order to respond to this dramatic challenge.”

Members of the LWF COP19 delegation include:

  • Ms Pranita Biswasi, Jeypore Evangelical Lutheran Church-United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India
  • Ms Raquel Kleber, Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil
  • Mr Martin Kopp, Union of Protestant Churches of Alsace and Lorraine
  • Ms Matilda Mattson, Church of Sweden, 
  • Ms Rose Stephens-Booker, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Mr Piotrek Sztwiertnia, Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland
  • Mr Elija Zina, Lutheran Church in Liberia, LWF Council member

The delegation is accompanied by Ms Caroline Richter, LWF Youth Secretary.