In an open letter to world leaders, a Tibetan rights group has raised the issue of climate change caused by China’s exploitation of rich natural resources, ahead of the upcoming UN Climate Conference COP27. Jyotsna Jayaram and Tenzin Tseten, writing in Tibet Rights Collective, said that as the world comes together to discuss the impact and mitigation of climate change and catalyze action at the upcoming United Nations Conference on climate, COP27, it is important to discuss the climate crisis in Tibet.
In an attempt to colonize Tibet and exploit its rich natural resources, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is destroying its pristine environment and the resulting environmental changes in Tibet are impacting not only the Tibetan people but also those who live downstream. China’s exploitation of Tibet’s land and natural resources has accelerated dramatically in recent years. Mining, dam construction and deforestation are rampant in Tibet. In the name of Tibet’s “development”, the CCP is building dual-use infrastructure and as a result pollution is also increasing in the region, Tibet Rights Collective reported.
The story of the Tibetan nomads is one of the darkest episodes in the narrative of the illegal Chinese invasion of Tibet which, unfortunately, is criminally underreported. The traditional culture and way of life of Tibetan nomads is under threat due to China’s efforts to relocate them from their ancestral grasslands to urban settlements in the name of poverty alleviation and ecosystem conservation.
This is ironic given that these nomads have been the traditional stewards of the land for thousands of years. These moves are only aimed at displacing them to make way for mining and dam construction activities, Jyotsna Jayaram and Tenzin Tseten said. A crisis is unfolding on the largest and highest plateau on earth and the location of the third largest ice cap and largest accessible source of fresh water on earth.
It is also the source of six of the largest rivers in Asia which feed the populations of 10 countries in the region. The rate of melting of Tibetan glaciers is worrying. According to a report by the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the climate crisis will lead to the melting of at least a third of the region, Tibet Rights Collective reported.
Recently, a team of researchers discovered about 1,000 types of bacteria in snow and ice samples taken from Tibetan glaciers; With global warming accelerating the melting of ice, if the harmful bacteria are released, it could cause problems for those who depend on Tibet’s water sources. The Tibetan Plateau is expected to lose a significant amount of water due to global warming this century. According to recently published research, due to an increasingly hot and humid climate, the Tibetan Plateau has lost just over 10 billion tons of water per year since 2002, said Jyotsna Jayaram and Tenzin Tseten.
Extreme weather events have been reported recently in Tibet, which point to accelerating effects of global warming on the plateau. A 6.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Chagsam county in eastern Tibet on September 5, 2022, leaving many dead and missing. As flash floods hit the Amdo region in August 2022, authorities declared an orange drought alert as heat waves persisted in several parts of Tibet.
Despite the risks, Tibetans inside and outside Tibet continue to fight for the protection of their homeland’s environment. A-Nya Sengdra, a Tibetan nomad and environmental activist from eastern Tibet, was arrested on bogus charges related to his peaceful activism as an environmentalist in 2018, Tibet Rights Collective reported. A team of Tibetan environmentalists were in Glasgow to represent Tibet at COP26. The “COP26 Team Tibet” underscored the global ecological importance of the Tibetan Plateau and strongly urged world leaders to place the Tibetan Plateau at the center of any discussion on global climate change.
They also handed out the “5 Point Call to Action for Tibet” flyers to eminent personalities and other delegates. The “5 Point Call to Action for Tibet”, first drafted in 2015 for COP21, included five specific demands for the protection and understanding of the Tibetan plateau. However, COP26 did not shine enough light on the Tibet issue and COP27 is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss. COP 27 is an opportunity for leaders to raise the issue of Tibet and urge others to put Tibet at the center of any discussion on global climate change, said Jyotsna Jayaram and Tenzin Tseten.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and it is important that it recognizes the key role the Tibetan Plateau plays in the climate change discourse. As leaders and stakeholders gather in Egypt in November 2022 for COP27, Tibet Rights Collective urged to amplify the voices so that world leaders listen to them, realize the importance of addressing the issue of Tibet and hold the CCP responsible for the crisis. (ANI)
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