Several weeks ago I received an email inviting me to be part of an international action on climate justice.
Climate Justice Fast! aims to send a powerful message to members of the public who are as yet unaware of the urgency of climate action, as well as to inspire those who are already aware of climate change to become more politically active. In addition, our act will serve as a powerful reminder to our leaders of the importance, and moral consequences, of their decisions on climate change. We believe that hunger striking could not be more appropriate for the issue of climate change. We desperately need to bring attention to the enormity of its injustice, and to alert the general public to the urgency of climate action.
On Friday, the Climate Justice Fast! got started with a news conference in Barcelona, Spain and with 80 people in 13 countries signed up to fast. A core group began a water-only fast on November 6 and will continue on through the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen from December 7 to 18. The fasters are prepared to go beyond that date. Talk about commitment! I signed on early, almost immediately upon hearing about it, actually. But I knew I could not commit to the full fast because of familial and professional commitments. I did decide to fast for at least one day per week over the six weeks. Today is the first of what I’m calling my solidarity fast. I want to show support for the long-term fasters, demonstrate my commitment to the issue and be part of a long tradition, a tradition which in the past century includes determined British suffragettes, the amazing Mahatma Gandhi and, more recently, a Canadian grandmother, Donna Dillman.
As a feminist activist, my concern on the climate change issue focuses on the lives of women and children — people already treated as second class citizens the world over. Climate change is making their lives even worse. From Save The Children UK:
Quick facts: climate change and children
- In the next decade, up to 175 million children are likely to be affected every year by the kinds of natural disasters brought about by climate change. 1
- The percentage of the world’s population exposed to malaria, one of the biggest killers of children under the age of five, is expected to increase from 45 per cent to 60 per cent in the next 100 years due to climate change. 2
- By 2010, there will be 50 million ‘environmentally displaced people’, most of whom will be women and children. 3
The year 2010 begins 50 sleeps from today in my part of the world. It is imperative that our world leaders take immediate action! Even though the mild chills and hunger pangs I am enduring today seem so very small I know that I am support those who are doing something very big — risking their lives — in order to get those leaders not only to listen but also to act. CJF!’s call for justice:
We, the participants of Climate Justice Fast!, are undertaking our international
hunger strike in order to call upon world leaders – and all people, everywhere –
to act with courage and good faith for our common, global good, by implementing
the most rapid possible transition to stabilise atmospheric greenhouse gases
below 350ppm CO2-e, and by committing to deliver justice for the global poor
and future generations – who are the least responsible for causing
climate change, yet who suffer the most from its effects.
Climate Justice for the poor and for future generations can be delivered by
funding climate adaptation and mitigation activities in developing nations with
at least US$160 billion per year; by reducing and rejecting over-consumption,
wherever it exists, and by phasing out fossil fuels completely – starting with
the elimination of developed countries’ fossil fuel subsidies, shifting them wholly to
renewable energy and international climate finance.
We urge all people, everywhere, to make a commitment to
join the movement for climate justice,
and to not to give up until we succeed in these demands being met.
Feeling doubtful? Well, let me leave you with Margaret Mead’s words: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”