By Choekyi Lhamo
An all-female Tibetan delegation is set to leave for Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt for the COP27 conference from 6-18 Nov. to highlight the importance of Tibet’s environment in securing the climate future for billions of lives across Asia. The press release on Monday said that the group will be focused on raising the issue of two existential threats that Tibet faces; the climate crisis and the Chinese occupation.
“We are travelling to Egypt because we strongly believe that Tibetan voices must be heard. Failure to address the occupation of our country or include Tibetans in a solution to the global climate crisis will leave the world with an environmental time bomb, one which risks devastating billions of lives across Asia unless it is diffused,” the group said in the joint statement prior to their departure to Egypt. The five-member delegation are TPI research fellow Dhondup Wangmo, SFT activist Khenzom Alling, ITN researcher Dr. Lobsang Yangtso, SFT Executive Director Pema Doma, and Tibet Watch researcher Tenzin Choekyi.
“What is abundantly clear is that during the policy making process in Tibet, there is no Tibetan representation on these high posts. The government has put up small environmental groups in remote areas just for show, but fails to listen to real concerns and puts environmentalists like Karma Samdrup in prison for doing so,” ITN researcher Lobsang Yangtso remarked during the press conference.
The Tibetan plateau is often referred to as the Third Pole as Tibet’s glaciers contain the largest concentration of frozen water outside of the Arctic and Antarctica. In the Glasgow summit last year, the Tibet climate team said that Tibet faced this unique twofold existential threat faced by the natives, who are the indigenous to the land, often side-lined or misrepresented due to China’s forceful presence in the global economy.
The group noted that the Chinese government is responsible for the worsening climate situation in the region already made vulnerable by global warming. “This is a crucial time for Tibet and the wider world. Our country is at risk and our struggle to protect our homeland, our environment and our way of life will affect our future and that of a billion people across Asia. But in a cruel twist of fate, occupied Tibet is excluded from the talks,” the joint statement further remarked, noting the lack of Tibetan representation on global climate discussions.