The Church of South India (CSI), Green Anglicans and other groups are sharing creative ways to observe a “carbon fast" during the Lenten season. A carbon fast challenges people to examine their daily actions and reflect on how they impact the environment. The carbon fast campaigns are designed so that, over Lent, people can take small steps to reduce carbon dioxide output with the hope of helping the environment and bringing the world one step closer to a sustainable existence.
In India, a carbon fast has great meaning because so many in the country are not only aware of climate change but are already negatively affected by it, noted CSI moderator Most Rev. Thomas K. Oommen.
“In India, we are aware of climate change because of our warmer temperatures, swings between floods and droughts, and rising sea levels,” he wrote in a letter urging churches all over the world to engage in a carbon fast. “Warmer temperatures and rising sea levels are undesirable because they will have negative impacts on agriculture, fishing, community developments, plants and animals that are important to our ecosystems and the protection of our coastline.”
The Green Anglicans, or Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s Environmental Network, has produced a Lenten calendar with daily reflections and actions one can take to observe a carbon fast during Lent. From buying organically grown food to eating less meat to unplugging appliances, the daily actions are suggested to help slow the damage to God’s creation. Cycling to work, using a watering can rather than a sprinkler, and fixing leaks at home are also included on the Green Anglicans calendar.
The activities associated with carbon fasting also help support the World Council of Churches (WCC) Lenten campaign Seven Weeks for Water, offered by the WCC’s Ecumenical Water Network. With a focus on Africa, Seven Weeks for Water features theological reflections and resources.
Ideas such as carbon fasting have a higher impact when they are shared globally, said Athena Peralta, WCC programme executive for Economic and Ecological Justice. “As we all respond to climate change, individually and collectively, the pursuit of ecological justice becomes stronger and wider, bringing hope to millions of people affected by climate change in our world.”
Climate change not only affects daily quality of life but is threatening the survival of the natural world, added Rev. Oommen. “Additionally, other environmentally unfriendly actions (for example, littering, cutting down our forests) make the impacts of climate change worse. Join the carbon fast because you can change the world a little in 40 days, but more importantly you could change yourself a lot!”