On the eve of COP26, the UN climate conference beginning Oct. 31 in Glasgow, the International Campaign for Tibet is calling for the inclusion of a strong rights-based approach in the fight against climate change.

ICT is also calling for the adoption of the “ecosystem approach” that understands climate change as an issue that spans across borders. This is particularly true for Tibet. As an ecosystem of regional and global importance, Tibet needs to be opened up to international scientific research.

The Tibetan experience is crucial as it underscores the importance of local knowledge and meaningful inclusion, both of which are largely ignored by the Chinese authorities in Tibet.

Tibet is currently warming two-to-four times faster than the global average. This has accelerated glacial and permafrost melt and exacerbated desertification, which results in the loss of a major carbon sink.

Climate change in Tibet is therefore threatening the livelihood of more than 1 billion people, as well as the region’s rich biodiversity, which strengthens the Earth’s resilience to environmental stress.

“For centuries, Tibetans have lived in a sustainable way with nature, making skilful use of the highland as they rear their livestock,” said Palmo Tenzin, advocacy and research officer at the International Campaign for Tibet in Germany, who will be present in Glasgow.

“Tibetans speak not only as people struggling against occupation and environmental devastation, but also as people with unique and valuable insights into what a sustainable relationship between humankind and the environment can look like. As more and more people wake up to the need to preserve our planet, we hope to find a receptive audience at COP26.”

ICT recommendations

Drawing on the Tibetan experience, ICT proposes three recommendations for shaping a meaningful and sustainable global climate policy at the COP26 meeting:

  • Improve access and transparency in scientific research on climate change, in particular in regionally critical ecosystems such as Tibet.
  • Integrate a rights-based approach to climate change responses, as empowered people enact and sustain meaningful and sustainable environmental interventions. This can be achieved by inserting procedural rights and the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities into Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.
  • Integrate an ecosystem approach to climate action policies and focus on critical ecosystems. This will:
    • provide a methodology for assessing actors and forces in a regional climate system and facilitate transboundary responses
    • aim to balance the conflicting goals of conservation and natural resource consumption for economic and social benefit

ICT at COP26

ICT is providing a briefing paper for COP26, which can be viewed here.

The organization will be present in Glasgow and moderate a panel discussion on Nov. 4 from 6:30-8:30 pm (GMT+1). For more information on this event, including on livestreaming it, visit www.tibetclimatecrisis.org/cop26 or follow ICT on Twitter.

For more information on COP26 and Tibet, follow #TibetClimateCrisis.