Germans leave their cars at home in Lenten 'auto fast'

8 April 2009

By Anli Serfontein   

Trier, Germany, 8 April (ENI)--Almost 2000 people in south-western Germany and Luxembourg have taken part in a church-sponsored Lenten car-fasting action during which time they abstain from using their cars, while opting instead for alternative transport.

Instead they walked, cycled, used public transport, or if all else failed, they opted for car sharing when travelling.

"In one's car, one is always alone, but in the bus one meets friends and acquaintances with whom one can talk," said Marga Kranz, at a 1April meeting of participants. Others said they arrived at work more relaxed after cycling or using public transport.

Lent, the annual Christian season of penitence before the feast commemorating the resurrection of Jesus, is a period of self-denial and preparation for Easter and it has fallen in 2009 from 25 February to 11 April.

In southwestern Germany and in neighbouring Luxembourg the action was supported by Roman Catholic dioceses and Protestant churches.

The car-fasting action that also takes place in other parts of Germany during the Lenten period is aimed at encouraging people to change their mobility patterns while thinking of the environmental, social and health effects of their actions.

People who could not do without their cars because of an insufficient public transport infrastructure, especially in rural areas, were asked to make a donation to a firewood-saving, low-carbon dioxide-emission stove project in Tanzania.

The project in the east African nation is aimed at reducing by 50 percent the chopping of firewood and carbon dioxide emissions at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak.

"We are destroying our environment because of greed, need or because of ignorance," said Simon Mmakasa of Smecao, a Tanzanian partner of Bread for the World, a German Protestant development and aid agency. [304 words]

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