Dalai Lama calls for protection of Tibet’s environment

  • Naresh K Thakur, Hindustan Times, Dharamshala
  • Updated: Oct 20, 2015 19:59 IST
Tibetan spiritual leader,the Dalai Lama, gave a clarion call to protect the environment of the Tibetan plateau, in a message to world leaders on Tuesday. (REUTERS)

Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, gave a clarion call to protect the environment of the Tibetan plateau, in a message to world leaders on Tuesday.

The 80-year-old Nobel Peace laureate’s video message was played at a social media campaign, “Tibet Climate Action for the Roof of the World”, launched by Sikyong (Tibetan Prime Minister) Lobsang Sangay here.

Initiated in the run-up to United Nations Climate Change Conference-COP21 (Conferences of the Parties), slated to be held in Paris from November 30, the campaign seeks to make Tibet central to the global climate change discussions. “This blue planet is our only home and Tibet is its roof. As vital as the Arctic and Antarctic, it is the third pole,” said the exiled Buddhist leader.

“The Tibetan plateau needs to be protected, and not just for the Tibetans but for the environmental health and sustainability of the entire world,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sangay, describing Tibetan plateau as an environmentally strategic area, said it was the highest and largest plateau on earth with an elevation of more than 4,000 metre above the sea level and vulnerable to impact of climate change.

With 46,000 glaciers, the Tibetan plateau is home to the third largest store of ice and the largest source of accessible fresh water on the planet, which help support about 1.3 billion people.

“The Tibetan plateau is experiencing an approximate increase of 1.3 degree Celsius in temperature every five decades, which is three times the global average,” said the leader.

Sangay said Tibet was facing an intense impact of climate change as over the past 50 years, 82% of the ice has retreated and over two-third of the glaciers are in danger of extinction by 2050.

The rapidly melting Alpine permafrost which stores about 12,300 million tonnes of carbon, is further exacerbating the problems of global warming, he added.

Sangay not only wants an effective climate change agreement but is also seeking a say at the largest global climate change summit, in which 40,000 delegates and world leaders from 194 countries would be participating.

The world leaders will try to hammer out a deal to slow man-made climate change by aiming to keep average global increase in temperature below a ceiling of 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This aim extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that commits the parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

If the summit is successful, the attending countries will sign the treaty, which will prove to be a successor to the 1992 Kyoto Protocol.

The last climate change talks held in Copenhagen in 2009 had ended in disappointment due to differences between the United States and China.

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