By Tenzin Sangmo
Head of the Environment research desk, Tibet Policy Institute, Tempa Gyaltsen, Secretaries Sonam N Dagpo and Dhardon Sharling, Phayul Photo/Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 31: “The recent increase in the building of mega dams, expansion of resource extractions, and suppression of peaceful environment-related protests clearly contradict the new environmental law,” said Tibetan government-in-exile in response to China’s white paper on Tibet’s ecology, issued by the State Council of the Chinese government in July 2018.
The white paper response committee of the CTA led by the DIIR secretary Sonam Norbu Dagpo addressed an eight-part response in a publication that specifically mentions harmful impact of climate change on the Tibetan plateau, grassland desertification, destructive mining, irresponsible damming, forceful removal of Tibetan nomads, rampant littering and increase in natural disasters in the last few years.
The Sunday Guardian article on July 28, 2018, titled ‘China issues a white paper on Tibet environment’ quoted Zamlha Tempa Gyaltsen, environmental research fellow at Tibetan Policy Institute of CTA as saying, “This is not the first white paper issued by China on Tibet, but so far is the most detailed one addressing Tibet’s ecology. This proves that China knows that its projects have come at a great environmental cost. This cost cannot be neglected.”
Earlier reports on Tibet.net, the official website of the CTA indicated that the white paper made no mention of natural disasters despite Tibetan areas facing devastating floods, landslides, and mudslides in recent years.
Unregulated constructions and mining activities in the region have further exacerbated the climate change on the plateau that saw an unprecedented number of natural disaster across Tibet since 2016. There are numerous floods and landslides occurring in North-eastern and Central regions of Tibet, said a report published on July 21, 2018.
As a prominent player in the Paris Climate Accord, China needs to show its intent – not just on paper but in practice, says today’s written response.
However, the response welcomed the introduction of the new Environment Protection Law in 2015 as a welcome step forward and said that there had been positive efforts on environmental protection across China and Tibet ever since Xi Jinping became the president but lack of implementation of the laws by Chinese officials have resulted in confrontations and contradictions.
The report concludes, “As His Holiness, the Dalai Lama has constantly emphasized that the environmental conservation is a universal issue that rises above political concerns, Tibetan people and the Chinese government could work together for a more effective environmental conservation across Tibet.”