Free Tibet calls for action on climate crisis in Tibet

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Free Tibet is calling for action on a growing climate crisis in Tibet and the Himalayas with the launch of a new campaign today. The campaign calls for Tibetans to be recognised as being on the “frontline” of climate change. (1)

The London based human rights group has already been working with Tibetans in the global climate movement. This year the organisation, and the wider Tibet movement, are hoping to raise greater awareness for Tibet by pushing for a Tibetan representative to address the United Nations at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in summer 2021, having been postponed due to COVID-19. (2)

The campaign aims to inform officials and the public about the impact of climate change on Tibet and its citizens. It will also join Free Tibet with global efforts to push for reductions in CO2 emissions and the burning of fossil fuels. 

The region containing the Tibetan Plateau, the Himalayas and the Karakoram Mountains, has been called the world’s ‘third pole’ because it holds the largest reserves of glacier ice outside of the North Pole and Antarctica. (3)

But the climate crisis could see it warm by 4.5ºC to 5ºC and lose around two thirds of its glacier ice by the end of the century, a frozen climate expert has said. (4)

Rivers originating from Tibet bring water to over 1.35 billion people which is around 20% of the world's population. The warming in the mountains and projected loss of glacier ice could mean water shortages for both Tibetans and others downstream.

Free Tibet will launch the campaign by encouraging its supporters to contact their  MPs and representatives about the need for a Tibetan voice at COP26 in Glasgow, where it hopes to draw attention to the crisis in Tibet on the world stage.

Free Tibet’s Campaigns and Communications Manager, John Jones, said: 

“Over the past decades, Tibetans have seen their country change around them. In addition to the daily repression that they face under occupation, they also have to withstand their environment changing, with experts estimating that the Tibetan Plateau is warming at a quicker rate than the global average. The retreating glaciers and threats to Tibet’s ecosystem will have a dramatic effect on the lives of Tibetans and those relying on water from rivers that originate in Tibet’s mountains. Tibetans are on the frontline of the climate crisis and must be given a platform to address the world about what is happening to their country.”  


For further information or comment, contact Free Tibet Campaigns and Communications Manager John Jones

T:+44 (0)207 324 4605

Notes to editors

(1) A link to the campaign page on the Free Tibet website is here. 

(2) Details on the UN COP 26 event can be found here

(3) (4) An article on the climate crisis at the world’s ‘third pole’ is here