International parliamentarians call for debate on Tibetan environment at COP15

An international group of parliamentarians has written an open letter calling for discussion of the Tibetan environment at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, also known as COP15.

Tibet, the world’s largest and highest plateau, is the ‘world’s third pole’ because it contains the biggest ice fields outside of the Arctic and Antarctic. The Tibetan plateau is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and the impact of melting glaciers could be catastrophic. No other area in the world is a water repository of such size, serving as a lifeline for much of a continent and for millions of people. The sustainable management of Tibet has become a 
serious security issue in the region.

Thirty-five parliamentarians representing 16 parliaments around the world and including twelve parliamentary groupings for Tibet signed the open letter, which urged negotiators at the conference to consider initiatives and policies that take into account the following:

  1. Independent, international scientific assessments of the changes in the Tibetan plateau’s ecosystems, water resources and land use policies, including the participation of scientists and relevant stakeholders from Tibet and from those nations that depend on Tibet’s water.
  2. Integrated participation of Tibetans, especially Tibetan nomads, in the decision-making and management of the plateau’s natural resources.
  3. Encourage trans-boundary collaborative decision-making and governance of the Tibetan plateau’s water resources, including all regional and local stakeholders.

In a statement to COP15, the signatories urged collaborative action:

“Just as China is essential to successful implementation of global climate change solutions, Tibet is indispensable to China’s ability to implement them successfully.  We urge negotiators to ensure that strategies to address climate change include stakeholders in Tibet, particularly nomads.  This inclusion is essential to understanding, mitigating and adapting to changes in the Tibetan plateau’s water, forest, and grassland resources and ecosystems, critical to millions of people downstream and for the stability and security of Asia.”

World leaders will attend COP15 between 7-18 December in Copenhagen, Denmark in an effort to establish a new global agreement on combating climate change beyond the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.