The Dalai Lama has wished a Happy New Year to Tibetans inside Tibet and his followers around the world, while urging immediate action against global climate change.

In his 2021 New Year Greeting, the Tibetan Buddhist leader offers his advice for having a more peaceful and compassionate year ahead.

In a separate video titled “Our Only Home,” the Dalai Lama cautions that “this blue planet” is “our [only] home”—which means we must take steps to protect it.

Climate change in Tibet

The video notes that the Dalai Lama “advocates immediate measures to stem global warming.”

In his homeland of Tibet, glaciers are melting at a rate faster than anywhere else in the world, the video says.

“The Tibetan plateau needs to be protected,” the video quotes the Dalai Lama saying, “not just for Tibetans but for the environmental health and sustainability of the entire world.”

The Tibetan Policy and Support Act, which recently passed Congress and became law at the end of 2020, addresses climate change and water security in Tibet, which provides water to more than 1 billion people in Asia.

Under the TPSA, the US acknowledges the strategic importance of the Tibetan plateau and the threat that climate change poses to it.

As part of the new law, the secretary of state will have to pursue collaboration with China and international institutions to monitor Tibet’s environment and support the Tibetan people’s efforts to preserve it.

The secretary will also have to encourage a regional framework on water security.

Learn more about the TPSA.

Making a difference

The video shares the Dalai Lama’s advice that, “If we make an effort we can change the world. Those who are still young can make a difference and shape a better future.”

The video notes the Dalai Lama sent a letter of appreciation to the young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

In a few days, The Dalai Lama and Thunberg will join leading scientists for “A Conversation on the Crisis of Climate Feedback Loops,” hosted by the Mind & Life Institute.

The event will stream live Saturday, Jan. 9, at 10:30 pm EST.

Watch the event.

According to the institute, the conversation will be grounded in a new educational film series, “Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops,” that International Campaign for Tibet Chairman Richard Gere narrates.


The Dalai Lama also has a new book out titled, “Our Only Home: A Climate Appeal to the World,” in which he calls on political leaders to fight against deadlock and ignorance on the issue of climate change.

In the “Our Only Home” video, The Dalai Lama offers a suggestion that most of us could follow to help the environment right now: Embrace a vegetarian diet.

In India—where the Dalai Lama has lived since the Chinese government forced him into exile from Tibet in 1959—people have practiced vegetarianism for more than 1,000 years, he says.

“In the West, too much eat meat,” he says. “Not only is it a question of a sense of love [for] these animals, but itself [is] very bad for ecology.”

The Dalai Lama notes that Tibetans were traditionally not vegetarian, due in part to the harsh terrain of the Tibetan plateau.

“But,” he says, “we decided, most of our monastic institutions now stop serving meat.”

New Year greetings

In his separate, 2021 New Year Greeting video, the Dalai Lama says he thinks his New Year wishes will bring joy to Tibetans inside Tibet, who are living under China’s repressive rule in one of the least-free places on Earth.

The Dalai Lama then shares his guidance for how all of us can make better use of this new year.

“Check if the past year you used properly,” he says. “That means, if possible, helping others, serving others. If not, at least not harming others. That’s a meaningful life.”

If someone has lived their life selfishly before now, “You should think: Now, past is past,” the Dalai Lama says. “Now, from next day, new year, I should be same physical, same sort of name, but way of life more compassionate way, more meaningful way.

“This is [what] I want to express as a greeting of New Year.”