The recent White Paper of Tibet titled as ‘Tibet since 1951: Liberation, Development and Prosperity’ from Beijing highlighted very clearly how there were no concern to the level of destruction on Tibet’s environment. More than 50% of the official document engaged about development, building more dams, undertaking several infrastructural initiatives with ironically only 1 paragraph mentioning anything at all about the Tibet’s environment. The engagement on this very serious was also very light in nature as instead of acknowledging the environmental destruction in Tibet, it paints a good light on the government by wanting to take eco-friendly and sustainably motivated steps moving forward. This was of functioning and perspective shows a total negligence to Tibet’s environment, which rather than being protected is being exploited by the Chinese leadership under Xi Jinping. All these eventually leads to the drying up of rivers, glacial melting, thawing of permafrost, flooding, loss of grasslands and many more – all occurring due to the environmental destruction in Tibet under the hawkish eyes of president Xi Jinping.
Xi Jinping skips the largest environmental summit:
There are various summits and meeting with regard to our environment but not whatsoever than the Conference of Parties (CoP) 26 summit, which is a global summit attended by leaders of the various nations, NGO’s, think-tanks and even celebrities, all in the name of saving our now fragile environment. The summit last year held at Glasgow saw a plethora of world leaders come to the fore and issues dealing were the environment at the forefront. However, amidst the caterwauling, deliberations and protests here there was one notable absentee, this was the leader of the largest polluting nation president Xi Jingping of China. His absence drew wide criticism as China not only is the largest polluting nation but their Carbon emission has been on an unprecedented rise even with various environmental agreements signed by them. Furthermore, Beijing who currently governs Tibet (that is popularly known as the Third Pole) sees the latter as a dump zone rather than a safe haven and does not provide Tibet with the required resources to protect this very fragile but significant eco-system and unique biome.
Tibet as third pole and significance
The nation of Tibet from a geographic standpoint is the highest plateau of the world and rightfully deserves the tag of the Roof of the world. Of recent times with the rise in research towards our environment, Tibet was discovered in having the largest reservoirs of freshwater in the form of glaciers beyond the two poles giving it the title of ‘The Third Pole’. Furthermore, with several snowy mountains making their home in Tibet it is of no surprise to see it being the source of major rivers that flow throughout Asia and sustaining life to the nations and communities in the lower riparian regions. It got the title of ‘The Water Tower of Asia’ from the leading scientist even including Chinese scientist who along with their colleagues have spent years researching on Tibet’s environment. Tibet also is the storehouse of the one of the largest content of permafrost in the world, thereby preventing the carbon from ever reaching the atmosphere.
The famed rivers of Bramaputra known as YarlungTsangpo in Tibet, Mekong (Zachu), Yangtze (Drichu), Indus (SangyeKabaab) and many more originates from Tibet. These rivers not only provide waters to the lower riparian regions but they have also become important means of transportation connecting the land-locked Tibet to the oceans of the world. Hence, it has become an avenue of great economic activity through its manifestation as an important maritime trade route. Similarly, these rivers have impacted the regions where they flow with an immense level of biodiversity in these regions. The Tibetan Dechen prefecture in Yunnan province where the Mekong flows sees an awe inspiring and clean biosphere that it has become a tourist destination for many foreigners and Chinese as well. We also see how because of such unique environmental settings very rare flora and fauna thrive here. In Dechen prefecture, Shangri-La County the famous and rare TricholomaMatsuke (a very rare mushroom) grows, this mushroom and fungus that is popular in Japan is so rare that it only grows in certain regions of Tibet with its unique environmental setting.
Polices by Beijing that destroys Tibet’s environment
Unfortunately, the above-mentioned nature bound systems are now being shattered and destroyed by Beijing for their own benefit, not even giving an iota of thought to the inhabitants of Tibet, the future of China as a whole and its immediate neighbours that experiences the harsh reality of climate change through environmental destruction and degradation advocated by policies from Beijing.
Large Lithium and nuclear (uranium) mines not only create a large carbon footprint through emission of hydrocarbons in the atmosphere with it simultaneously impacting the monsoon cycle. Hydrocarbons are banned according to the Montreal protocols (1987, one major successful agreement on environmental protection) but Beijing still ignores it for immediate economic benefits and this harms the ozone layer drastically that envelops the Earth’s atmosphere and protects us all from the harmful UV (Ultra Violet)-rays.
Their construction of dams has been noticed by the world with the world’s largest dam ‘The Three Gorges dam’ brought to international scrutiny as this and many other damming projects which Beijing seems to favour brings a multi layered impact to the environment. It harms and destroys all level of biodiversity with even the people living in these regions severely impacted through displacement and resettlement projects. These dams also hamper the level of water flowing through the lower riparian regions, thereby creating a ‘Water Crisis’. And nowadays much like shale gas Beijing has started extracting more energy through these dams by implementing stored hydro, a concept that stores and releases water from dams in different heights without relying on the water cycle and the nature flow of river. This action degrades the dam and the whole flora and fauna rapidly by already supplementing the dam as an unnatural and anthropogenic entity.
A the end of the day, the real act in saving Tibet can only be done by the government who currently (illegally) governs and has authority over Tibet and that is China. Their no show for the CoP26 brings into question regarding their true intent in protecting our environment. On top of this their major documents and even so-called landmark resolutions rarely gives a mention on saving our environment. The Chinese Communist Party’s recent resolution on history which is a 14-page long document only has 3-4 lines when it comes to environment, thereby adhering to their notion of continued destruction of the environment in the coming years as well.
On top of this Beijing’s declarationof a Carbon neutral zone by 2060 (which is 10 years after the deadline set in the Paris treaty) is deeply connected to Tibet as they view it as the perfect carbon dumping zones – fulfil this postponed target. Tibet that is already facing multiple degradations that impacts Asia, and the world is now feeling it as well.If Beijing continues to have its waywithout any remorse towards the environment , then we may eventually see Tibet not as zone of safe haven, even shown in the movie 2012 but rather a desolate land that egged the destruction of the whole of Asia and the world eventually simply because Beijing cared less about it.