Tibetans allege Beijing’s climate action plan hurts their livelihoods, traditions, rights

Tibetans have alleged that the Beijing government is trying to strip them off their lands under the garb of climate mitigation efforts. They said they were forced to give up ownership of their land as well as stopped from using grazing fields. All this is expected to jeopardize the basic rights and hurt the livelihoods of the Tibetans living in Tibet. The Chinese government has started revoking land permits and confiscating farmlands and grazing grounds under the Grassland Preservation Policy. Water resources from Tibet take care of China’s water needs, which has caused Beijing to declare grasslands as national parks. All this has disrupted the lives and the livelihoods of Tibetan people. Tibet is a part of the Third Pole– Earths’ largest store of glaciers, ice and permafrost. Thus urbanization and disrupting the traditional likelihoods in Tibet are going to have huge negative COP26 Summit in Glasgow.

Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said China was punishing Tibetans in the name of climate action and reducing carbon emissions. China is relocating and resettling nomadic pastoralists from highlands to urban areas, which can lead to loss of land tenure security, food security and a host of other collective rights, it said. TCHRD said the climate action component, eco-compensation, had contradictory meaning in China’s way of doing it since it leads to the expulsion of Tibetan from their homelands. “Instead of compensating Tibetans for the loss of permafrost and wetlands, due to climate change driven by China’s emissions; and for the costs of increasing flooding, lake overtopping and extreme weather, China uses its adoption of Natural Ecological Capital Accounting to relocate Tibetans away from their lands,” the TCHRD said in its report named Unsustainable Futures.

China’s programme to address climate change involved restructuring Tibetan’s way of life even as allowing an intensive, industrial, market-based economy in other parts of the country, TCHRD said. This can affect long-term livelihood resilience among the affected communities. “Nomadic pastoralists are already vulnerable to climate induced disasters and calamities, the frequency of which has only accelerated in recent years. As if this is not enough, official policies aimed at environmental conservation prevent Tibetan nomads from pursuing a sustainable 33 livelihood and exercising autonomous agency, which is the foundation of human rights and personal dignity,” reads the TCHRD report. Also, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Chinese authorities were found to be relocating Tibetan nomadic herders forcefully– physical as well as by creating unfavourable conditions.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) had in 2019 warned that the rate of warming in Tibet was at triple the speed of the rest of the world was experiencing warming. Yet China continued with extensive infrastructure building across the Tibetan Plateau. “Despite the fragility of the high-altitude ecosystem and the stark threats spelled out by the IPCC, China has intensified infrastructure construction across Tibet to further open up the landscape and extract Tibet’s natural resources. Such projects include a network of strategic rail routes and major damming and hydropower projects, the effects of which are likely to be irreversible,” said International Campaign for Tibet.

China is the biggest polluter as it releases more greenhouse gases Tibet than the combined share of other countries. And China contribution is set to increase significantly as it has boosted coal-based power generation in the wake of the unprecedented power crisis. Naturally, China finds itself at the centre stage as different countries begin negotiations for a comprehensive and balanced outcome for a coordinated climate action plan. Thus, China is using Tibet to show that it is taking mitigation measures to repair reputation damage. This however has in turn affected poor and naive Tibetan’s livelihoods, their traditions, and their basic rights, said CHRD researcher Tenzin leadership role in global climate management.

By Staff Writer

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