COP26

Sunday 7th, November:

This is a in person event in Glasgow and Streamed Live.

Meet our COP26 Tibet Climate Crisis Delegates:

Dechen Palmo

Can you talk briefly about your organisation and the job you do? 

The Tibet Policy Institute is a research center of the Central Tibetan Administration, located in the pristine hill of Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India. The TPI strives to serve as an intellectual hub for Tibetan scholars across the globe. It also serves as a think tank to help the Kashag of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) to identify potential prospects and problems for Tibet and the Tibetan people and offer possible solutions for the Kashag to effectively meet the potential challenges.

I am a research fellow at the Environment and Development Desk of the Tibet Policy Institute. the area of my research is on Tibet’s Transboundary rivers focussing mainly on the Mekong and the Brahmaputra rivers.

Why are you coming to COP26? 

To create global awareness about the importance of the Tibetan plateau and to call on UNFCCC to make Tibet central to make central to any global climate change discussion.

Can you briefly share your experience of advocating for Tibet and its environment? 

Although many countries recognize the global significance of the Tibetan plateau for the world and Asia in particular, there is hardly anything done to protect Tibet’s environment. therefore we came here every year during the COP summit to call on the UNFCCC to launch scientific research studies to better understand both the impact of climate change and the plateau’s critical role in reversing the pace and scale of global climate change.

What do you hope will happen at COP26? 

Climate change is the greatest risk facing everyone on this planet. At COP 26 every country will bring their national plan however Tibet, under the occupation of China, have no means to protect, mitigate and adapt itself from the climate change impact and restore its ecosystem.

What does the world need to know about Tibet and its environment?

The world should know that Tibet is not only the largest and highest plateau in the world; it is home to the third-largest store of ice and the largest source of accessible fresh water on the planet. It is also the head source of Asia’s six largest rivers, flowing into the 10 most densely populated nations and supports almost one-third of the world’s population. The timing and intensity of the Indian and East Asian monsoons are greatly influenced by climate change on the Tibetan Plateau. Some scientific findings have linked the increasing cases of heatwaves across Europe in recent years to receding glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau. Therefore a comprehensive understanding of global climate change is impossible without taking into consideration what is happening on the Tibetan Plateau.

Lobsang Yangtso

Can you talk briefly about your organisation and the job you do? 

I am Dr. Lobsang Yangtso. I was born in Kham, Tibet, and completed my schooling from Tibetan Schools in India, and finished my Bachelors in English Literature and Masters in International Studies from Stella Maris College, Chennai. I joined the Jawaharlal Nehru University for M.Phil in Chinese Studies, Centre for East Asian Studies and recently submitted my Ph.D thesis on the “China’s Environmental Security Policies in Tibet: Implications to India, 2001-2013” from the same department. The International Tibet Network is a global coalition of Tibet-related 150 nongovernmental organisations.

Why are you coming to COP26?

I am coming to COP26 to raise the awareness of Tibet Climate Crisis to the global community and also to pressure China to change its development policies which further degrade the fragile ecosystem of Tibet.

Can you briefly share your experience of advocating for Tibet and its environment?

Alongside my studies, I work as an Environmental Researcher and Asia Regional Coordinator at International Tibet Network. I have also worked as a research associate at the Centre for China Analysis and Strategy, New Delhi and the Environment and Development Desk of Tibet Policy Institute, Dharamsala previously. A main area of work for our Network concerns Tibet’s environment and we have been working with global groups and communities on Tibet Third Pole since 2009 and have taken part in COP15 and COP21.

What do you hope will happen at COP26?

We plan to advocate for action to alleviate the global climate crisis with particular concentration on the protection of the Tibetan Plateau, a uniquely important and globally significant ecosystem.

What does the world need to know about Tibet and its environment?

The international community needs to know that China has illegally occupied Tibet since the 1950s and Tibet is experiencing environmental transformation affecting not only the Tibetans but also billions of people living downstream. Thus, the Tibet issue is not only political, but it is about Asia’s water, environmental security issues, and its ecological interests.

Palmo Tenzin 

Can you talk briefly about your organisation and the job you do? 

International Campaign for Tibet is a not-for-profit organization that advocates for human rights and democratic freedoms for the people of Tibet. Our mission is to support the peaceful struggle of the Tibetan people for self-determination and the preservation of their culture. Our work has extended to include environmental conservation, with increasing environmental activism inside Tibet and a recognition in the interdependence of a healthy environment and human rights.

I work as an Advocacy and Research Officer in the ICT Germany office, where I advocate for Tibet at United Nations agencies and in the German government. To inform my work, I also research a wide range of issues and policies that affect Tibetans inside Tibet.

Why are you coming to COP26? 

I’m coming to COP26 to elevate Tibet in the global climate conversation. The climate change challenges facing Tibet have serious implications for the region and the globe. Tibet’s glaciers feed rivers which support 1.4 billion people, and its plateau creates the conditions necessary for the arrival of the Asian monsoon systems. Tibet’s rich biodiversity also builds resilience against environmental stress. However, as a vast strategic landmass under Chinese occupation, Tibet is too often sidelined or censored at a serious cost to the region’s environmental future and the global climate conversation.

Can you briefly share your experience of advocating for Tibet and its environment? 

I have worked to advocate for the rights of Tibetans for three years as part of ICT, and for over 15 years as a private citizen. I have worked to advocate for human rights, and in particular the rights of environmental activists through the Human Rights Council and UNESCO. My interests and work on Tibet’s environment, began in 2013 when I undertook research into Tibet’s transboundary rivers.

What do you hope will happen at COP26? 

I am hoping for countries to recognize the importance of tackling climate change at the ecosystem level. This allows us to focus on understanding the actors, forces, and interconnecting dynamics of key ecosystems like Tibet, which play significant roles in the global climate system. In doing so, I am hoping for countries to recognize Tibet as a critical regional ecosystem extremely sensitive to climate change and in need of global attention and creative responses.

While it is important to set ambitious emissions reduction targets, I also hope countries recognize the importance of the methods used to reach our emissions targets – how we get there matters just as much, if not more. I am looking for countries to formally promote a human rights based approach to climate change mitigation and adaptation, with safeguards such human rights impact assessments and assurance of the right to information, consultation, participation, and justice and compensation.

What does the world need to know about Tibet and its environment?

The world needs to know that Tibet could become a perfect storm for climate failure if we don’t pay attention to what is happening in Tibet. It is a bad climate situation in a region that is extremely sensitive to global warming and industrialization. Tibet’s glaciers and grasslands provide key ecosystem services to over 1.4 billion people across continental Asia. If global temperature rise is not limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, almost two thirds of the glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayas will be gone in 80 years. However, this urgent climate situation is exacerbated by the political barriers to transparency and open dialogue. So we need to talk about what’s happening, what we know and don’t know, and what we need to do to help local communities to mitigate environmental damage and build environmental resilience.

Pema Doma

Can you talk briefly about your organisation and the job you do?

I am the Campaigns Director at Students for a Free Tibet (SFT). SFT is a grassroots organization dedicated to amplifying the voices of Tibetans inside Tibet through non-violent direct action, national and international-level advocacy, and grassroots training. My job as Campaigns Director is to strategize and implement hard-hitting campaigns aimed at exposing the Chinese government for its human rights record and empowering youth around the world to take action for Tibet. 

Why are you coming to COP26?

I am coming to COP26 to ensure that Tibetans are being properly represented on this vital international stage. The Tibet Climate Crisis is one of the biggest challenges the world faces in the fight against climate change, yet even many environmental activists have no idea what is happening to Tibet’s fragile ecosystem. Unfortunately, Tibetans inside Tibet are severely restricted by the Chinese government; their voice is completely silenced at global forums like the United Nations and COP26. Therefore, I humbly stand in their place and raise the issues the CCP is trying to sweep under the rug.

Can you briefly share your experience of advocating for Tibet and its environment?

Advocating for Tibet and its environment has been both a positive and negative experience. On the one hand, I’ve found that many young climate activists are eager to fight Chinese government occupation and stand with Tibetans inside Tibet. However, I’ve also experienced too many climate groups who are willing to throw Tibetans under the bus for the sake of collaboration with China on climate issues. Despite these disappointments, though, I’m still hopeful that the global climate movement will heed the voices of Tibetans and stand with us against China’s degradation of our homeland.

What do you hope will happen at COP26?

I hope that governments and activists will begin talking about the Tibet Climate Crisis. However, words are not enough and must be paired with concrete action. I’d like to see environmental NGOs and climate activists commit to meeting with Tibetan activists and following in their lead when it comes to how they address the Chinese government. There is not much time left for the world to take meaningful action to combat climate change, but if we prioritize the struggles of frontline communities like Tibetans, we stand a chance in turning the tides.

What does the world need to know about Tibet and its environment?

The world needs to know that Tibetans have been the stewards of the Tibetan plateau for thousands of years. For the millenia which Tibetan nomads have been protecting and maintaining Tibet’s ecosystem, the effects of global climate change were not as severe as they are now. It was not until China’s occupation in 1950 and the subsequent rapid industrialization which has caused Tibet to warm at a rate 3 times faster than the global average. The only way forward is to end China’s occupation and return stewardship of the Tibetan plateau to the Tibetan nomads who have the indigenous knowledge to reverse China’s disastrous policies.

Tenzin Choekyi

Can you talk briefly about your organisation and the job you do? 

I am Tenzin Choekyi, Senior Researcher at Tibet Watch. Tibet Watch is a research and advocacy organisation. Our researchers monitor Tibetan, English and Chinese government websites and media and also collect and corroborate information of human rights violations inside Tibet.

Why are you coming to COP26?

To send a clear message to the international community about the need for urgent focus on climate justice for Tibet. To highlight systematic policies that have been implemented by the ruling Chinese government since Tibet’s colonisation without fully understanding, recognising and integrating Tibetan’s indigenous knowledge. To highlight the impacts of Tibet’s climate crisis on Asia’s water and food security. To call for a rights-based approach towards the climate crisis. 

Can you briefly share your experience of advocating for Tibet and its environment?

I have worked as an interpreter for Tibetans across three different languages-Tibetan, English and French- in various work environments. My background and study in environmental science and policy led me into researching environmental justice for Tibetans. I also have experience in presenting my research analysis of China’s flawed policies of displacing Tibetans from their grasslands  

What do you hope will happen at COP26?

I hope for widespread awareness amongst policymakers as well as the general public about the dangerous policies of China that turn Tibet into a source of carbon and methane emissions.

What does the world need to know about Tibet and its environment?

Tibetans have for so long expressed their deep connection to their land and country through songs, prayers, and protests. The colonization of Tibet resulted in severing that connection through a myriad of so-called “civilising” and extractivist models of economic development. We can not overlook the importance of Tibetans and their desire for freedom when we address Tibet’s climate crisis.

COP26: We are ready!

Tibet’s Climate Crisis: Critical Lessons For Global Climate Policy – live and streamed event at COP26 on 4 November