Sunday, March 02, 2014



At the 19th Conference of Parties (COP19) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Warsaw, Poland, representatives of faith communities called for a just climate deal to be adopted by the UN in 2015. Many observers viewing the event from ethical and spiritual perspectives commented that COP19 concluded without fulfilling expectations of the victims of climate change. 

The issue of the impact of climate justice on vulnerable communities was brought into focus during a joint event of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and CIDSE, an international alliance of Catholic development agencies, held alongside COP19 in Warsaw on 21 November 2014.

The participants in the joint event echoed concerns raised by Naderev Yeb Saño, the Philippines’ representative at the UN climate change talks, who called the parties to deliver a meaningful outcome and started a “spiritual fast” that lasted for the two weeks of the negotiations. Held in a context of more than 5,000 casualties and the destruction caused recently by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Saño’s symbolic act of fasting was joined by faith communities in Poland and beyond.

While presenting the WCC statement titled Justice and peace must prevail: We must not betray life! On behalf of faith communities at the high level segment of COP19, Joy Kennedy concluded by saying: “Do not betray us, do not betray yourselves and your families, and do not betray the hopes of the world of the future. Act and act now! The future is here, the future is today. The world cannot wait: climate change is happening. Justice and peace must prevail 

Ash Wednesday (March 14, 2014) invites us into the season of Lent – a time within the church year to acknowledge that we are mortal, limited. Lent awakens us to hope in God whose "steadfast love endures forever" and to struggle against everything that leads us away from the love of God and neighbor. The Lenten disciplines of repentance, fasting, prayer, study and works of love are guides for returning to the steadfast love of God. During Lent we confess our mortality, our limits and our vulnerability so that we might be transformed and become the new life God calls us to be.

We invite you to join us as we commit to fasting from carbon during Lent. Beginning Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent, we will give you the day's suggested carbon-reducing activity. 

When possible, this will include a quantitative measure of the carbon reduction resulting from the activity.

The activities range from the very simple: eliminate “vampire” electrical use; to the moderately challenging: take “military showers;” reduce your driving speed; to more long term: buy local produce and consider getting involved in a community garden.

We don’t expect everyone to be able to do everything suggested; but serious consideration of each day’s activity can raise people’s awareness, inviting them to think more carefully about how their day to day living impacts the environment and make the changes they can. In addition to the activity for the day you will find information about the carbon impact of the activity, along with links to more information related to that activity. While we consider all of the activities a form of spiritual practice, a concrete way of participating in the stewardship of God’s creation, some of the activities are overtly spiritual in the more usual sense that people understand the word: meditation, prayer, and self-reflection. The intention is to provide do-able actions which can make a difference; not to overwhelm people, or make them feel bad about themselves, or cause them to feel that the situation is hopeless. We want people to feel better for doing this as well as challenging themselves to do more.

Lent, a season of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter, can also be the time to go on a ‘carbon fast' and reduce the carbon footprint. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Marthoma Senior Metropolitan of the Marthoma Church had come out with a 40-day prescription for the faithful to do so last year.

The recommendations aimed at addressing global warming have been included in the book Lenten Thoughts: Reduce Carbon Footprints, Practice Carbon Fasting, co-authored by Roy P. Thomas, Deputy Conservator, Forest Department.

‘Carbon fasting' is described as “a 40-day journey through Lent, towards a lighter carbon footprint,” and church members should implement one thing a day to reduce their environmental impact. “The carbon fast is in response to an urgent need to reduce carbon emissions and to protect poor communities around the world that are already suffering from the ravages of climate change,” the book says.

The carbon reduction propositions include talking about carbon fasting in churches, switching off electrical equipment, when not in use, and removing one electric bulb and living without it for the 40 days.

Tread lightly, recycle everything possible, and run the washing machine with full load, shop from local markets, refuse food imported by plane, use ink pens and candles made out of natural wax in churches … thus goes some of the green ways of life advocated by the authors. On Easter day, the “Christ is risen. Your lent is over but carbon fasting continues. It should become a way of life,” they say. The 40th day should be marked by replacing the missing bulb with an energy-saving one. Over its lifetime, it will save 60 kg of carbon dioxide per year and up to Rs.500, they add.

Last year, the senior prelate had requested the Marthoma Church members to cut down on personal carbon use for 40 days. He had enlisted energy-saving measures that could lead towards a lighter carbon footprint, including no to plastic bags, a day off for dishwashers and avoiding travel by vehicles. “This year, let us reiterate our pledges which can be practiced for carbon fasting this lent season. These Lenten thoughts are mostly ecological with a biblical/ethical footing. May God Almighty help us understand these thoughts in their true spirit and be our inspiration to walk accordingly,” the authors hope.

"One of the smartest things I've done in my 85 years." "My electric bill dropped Rs 200 monthly on average after the Carbon fast."

The Archdiocesan Office for Environment is preparing Posters, leaflets on a daily and weekly basis to help you in Carbon Fast. These materials will be given to Parishes and Religious institutions that can reprint the materials for their members. You can also contact the office at the numbers given below.

Fr Allwyn D’Silva
Head - Archdiocesan Office for Environment
St.Pius College, Aarey road, Goregaon (E), Mumbai 400 063.

Phone: +91-22-29270953; +91-22-29270523;

Allwyn D'Silva

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave person is not the one who does not feel afraid, but one who conquers that fear." Nelson Mandela

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