Tibet’s Climate Crisis


1.5 billion people across Asia rely on the fresh water that flows from Tibet’s glaciers, but this vital ecosystem is under threat. As the largest source of water ice outside of the Arctic and Antarctic, Tibet has been hit hard by climate change, and the situation only stands to get worse unless urgent action is taken.


The Third Pole

The Tibetan Plateau has become known as the Third Pole due to its vast glacial ice resources, providing the source of many of Asia’s largest rivers, including the Brahmaputra, the Ganges, the Mekong and the Yangtze.

However, while South Asia could see a temperature rise of 1°C by the end of the century, the Third Pole region is on track to see a 4.5°C to 5°C rise. The effects of such a dramatic rise in temperature would be devastating. Already a 15% loss of glacial ice has been reported in the Third Pole since the 1970s, if this continues South Asia could be subjected to increased river flows, leading to landslides, unpredictable water supplies, and unstable weather conditions, leaving communities vulnerable.

  • 5°C

    Temperature Rise

    By the end of the century, Tibet's Third Pole Region could see temperature rises of 4.5°C to 5°C.

  • 15%

    Glacial Melt

    A significant amount of glacial ice has been lost in the Third Pole Region since the 1970s.

  • 1.5 Bn.


    Glaciers in the Third Pole Region provide fresh water to major South Asian rivers, including the Ganges and Yangtze.

China’s Role in the Climate Crisis

The disastrous climate crisis in Tibet is being exacerbated by mass resource extraction and land theft by the Chinese government.

In recent years, China’s extraction of Tibetan natural resources has gathered pace significantly. With no power to protect their own lands, Tibetans have had to watch as resources flow out of their country, leaving behind a trail of devastation.

Lithium mining has caused some of Tibet’s rivers to be poisoned, while thousands of Tibetan nomads have been evicted from their lands and forcibly resettled in urban areas.

These Tibetan nomads have lived on and cultivated their lands for generations, striving to preserve the delicate balance in Tibet’s ecology. They are the best informed to protect Tibet’s environment against the climate crisis, yet they are being forced out in favour of more destructive mining, damming, and deforestation.

For there to be a future, Tibetans' current experience of the climate crisis urgently deserves to be known. There will also be no Tibet to return to if what defines Tibet and its people - their history, culture, and religion - are being exterminated by the CCP. Tibetans ask for nothing less, nothing more, than what is their human right - freedom to be who they are in their land.
– Tenzin Choekyi, Tibet Watch Researcher

How you can help

We believe that Tibetan voices are essential to finding solutions to the global climate crisis.

Tibetans must be given a platform in international discussions on climate change to allow their research, experience, and expertise to be heard.

To this end, we work with Tibetan climate researchers, campaigners and advocates to bring their experiences and their solutions to wider attention.

At COP26 in Glasgow and COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, we worked alongside other groups to create a formidable delegation of Tibetan climate researchers, advocates and campaigners. Together, they have been able to put Tibetans’ concerns to key policymakers, speak to journalists, and lead climate protests.

So that we can continue this work in the future, we want you to sign the Tibet Climate Pledge!

Add your voice to the growing movement that wants to ensure Tibet and Tibetan voices are represented at climate discussions on the international stage.

Take action for Tibet's Climate

We, as members of civil society, climate activists and people concerned by the growing climate crisis, recognise that frontline communities must be at the forefront of our collective struggle.

Yes, I'll sign the pledge

Further Reading

Further Reading


Pristine mountains, rolling pastures, spectacular glaciers and mighty rivers. All are located on the roof of the world. Tibet’s environment is precious for its beauty, but also to the Tibetan people who have stewarded it for generations. Yet this is all under threat.

Further Reading


Due to the rapid effects of climate change, the Tibetan Plateau is vulnerable. While the melting of the Third Pole’s glaciers affects more people directly than the north and south poles, it has received considerably less attention.

Further Reading


In recent years, China’s exploitation of Tibet’s natural resources has gathered pace significantly. Tibetans have no power to protect their own land and must watch the economic benefits of its resources flow out of their country.

We are Free Tibet, and we stand with Tibetans around the world. For their homeland, for their future and against China’s brutal occupation.