Activists Participating in Hunger Strike Demand ‘True Climate Justice’ in Copenhagen

James Crugnale Dec 18, 2009

With the COP-15 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in its final day, a group of activists will be ending a 42-day hunger strike to bring attention to the need for urgent action against climate change.

More than 3,000 people from throughout the world participated in the water-only hunger strike from Nov. 6 to Dec.18. The strike was sponsored by Australia-based Climate Justice Fast!, an environmental activist group using civil disobedience to “stand up for true climate justice,” according to the group’s website.

The group is calling for at least $195 billion in annual funding for climate adaptation and mitigation for developing countries, which would enable these countries to put an end to deforestation and the use of fossil fuels and shift to renewable energy.

These changes, according to the group’s web site, will allow activists, along with the rest of the international community,  “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.”

Ted Glick, one of the people participating in the fast, has taken part in multiple hunger strikes in the past. He said he was inspired to take such drastic steps through reading Gandhi.

“It helps if you’re in a group,” said Glick, the policy director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, of dealing with the commitment of the fast.

Mikayla Irle, a sophomore at Hamilton College, decided to get involved in the fast after attending PowerShift 2009 in March and joining various climate activist listservs.

Deciding to participate in the protest also forced her to step out of her comfort zone.

“What inspires me are the people who are going to suffer because of my consumption habits,” she said.

Another activist, Fatima Rodrigo, a member of a faith-based NGO at the U.N., wants her native country of India to make a commitment in Copenhagen.

“The people in India are trying to influence the government. I am optimistic, civil society has a lot to do with it,” Rodrigo said.

While the talks in Copenhagen have failed to meet protestors’ demands, Paul Connor, a participant in Climate Justice Fast! who hails from Australia, posted this message to other hunger strikers on the group’s website, Dec. 17:

“I know that many of us are angered, saddened, and disillusioned with what we have witnessed over the past two weeks in Copenhagen. But I want to say to you all that whatever has taken place over there—we must not despair, because hope is alive. But while there is hope, there is also no time to lose, and no time to waste.

We have to bring about this change as fast as we possibly can. We have to continue shining the light of our truth into every city, every street, and every home until it is heard. And when people are not ready, or when they do not want to listen, we must have faith in the power of this truth, and just keep going.”

For more information on how to get involved, go to