By Tenzin Lekhden
DHARAMSHALA, Nov.3: An all-female delegation of five Tibetans at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland highlighted the intensifying threats of climate change inside Tibet. The COP26 climate summit has representatives from more than 100 countries participating to tackle what the experts regard, as a serious existential threat.
The Tibetan delegation, Tibet climate crisis team, attended the climate summit to voice this unique twofold existential threat faced by the natives, which otherwise would have been side-lined or misrepresented due to China’s forceful presence in the global economy. Research and rights group Tibet Watch’s Tenzin Choekyi on the matter explains, “colonising Tibet has resulted in Tibetans being described from perspectives not reflective of Tibetan’s experiences. The colonial patterns continue with capitalism and China dominating the manufacturing industry by relying on Tibet’s natural resources.”
When asked how should the Tibetan community navigate this layered challenge posed by China’s capitalist clout?”, she replied, “Tibetans have to first recognize that the struggle of human rights and freedom is very much part of the increasingly volatile global market system and economy. Educating and researching about the investors and corporate industries involved in extraction and supply chain of the minerals from Tibet is crucial in linking human rights, freedom struggle and the global economy.”
Students for a Free Tibet’s Pema Doma said that China’s “racist and oppressive policies…has created an existential threat to both the way of life and critical ecosystem in Tibet.”
The delegation recognises “the climate crisis [as] political, and the international community’s approach toward Tibet must be underpinned by the knowledge of Tibet’s history of occupation by China and its impacts on neighbouring countries.”
According to the Cross-Party Group on Tibet, the rivers originating from the ‘Third Pole’ provide water supply to 1.9 billion people and irrigate the farms that feed 4.1 billion people. Thus any disruption to this water supply, experts say, would directly affect half the world’s population and will indirectly have an effect on all of us.
Dechen Palmo, a research fellow at the Tibet Policy Institute, warns, “without sustained attention and action on Tibet’s climate, Tibet could become a perfect storm for climate change.”
Palmo Tenzin, Research Officer at the International Campaign for Tibet, pointed out, “[Tibetans can speak] as people with unique and valuable insights into what a sustainable relationship between humankind and the environment can look like.”