Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Dalai Lama Calls for Ambitious Climate Agreement at COP21 (Video)
In a video message (see the bottom of the page) released as part of a campaign by the Tibetan government-in-exile in northern India, the 80-year-old Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader said human beings created the problem of global climate change, and therefore humanity must solve it.
"These are humanity's responsibility," he said.
He said that instead of acting to protect the environment, "we are relying on praying to God or to Buddha. Sometimes, I feel this is very illogical."
In advocating for a strong climate agreement in Paris, the Dalai Lama is adding his voice to that of Pope Francis, who has framed the issue as a moral one.
The government-in-exile said the campaign pushing for ambitious action at the Paris Climate Summit, which starts on Nov. 30 and is aimed at creating a new global climate agreement to take effect in 2020, will continue through this year's U.N. climate change talks. The exiled government will send its own delegate to the talks, according to the Associated Press, though it will not have a vote of its own when countries move to adopt or reject negotiating provisions.
"This is not a question of one nation or two nations. This is a question of humanity. Our world is our home," the Dalai Lama said. "There's no other planet where we may move or shift." This echoes the rhetoric of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has often said that we lack a "planet B."
Saying he and his generation are "fading," the Dalai Lama urged young people to "take a more active role in protecting this planet, including the Tibetan plateau."
Temperatures for Tibet's high-altitude plateau — referred to as "the Roof of the World" — are rising about three-times faster than the global average, and are 1.3 degrees Celsius, or 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit, higher than they were 50 years ago, according to a fact sheet distributed as part of the campaign. The Himalayas are also called the Third Pole, referring to the fact that they are covered in snow and ice and are particularly susceptible to climate change, like the North and South poles.
As the Dalai Lama says in his video message, the Himalayas and Tibet are a critical source of water for people in China, Nepal, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, with seven giant, life-sustaining rivers of Asia tracing their roots to the high elevation regions.
The government-in-exile also argued that Tibetans should be restored as the "true stewards" of the plateau, which has been under Chinese rule for decades and where Tibetans accuse Beijing of mining indiscriminately while forcing nomadic communities to move elsewhere.
"Tibetans must have a say on what happens on their land," said the exiled government's prime minister, Lobsang Sangay. "Tibetan nomads are the expert custodians of the alpine pastures, and their knowledge and experience must be recognized."
Up to 70% of the plateau is covered in permafrost, with large reserves of both carbon dioxide and methane trapped within the ice. Scientists say thawing could release long-stored emissions of both greenhouse gases. Methane can be 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping Earth's heat.