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October 10, 2013 : Congressional-Executive Commission on China

Washington, DC—The bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China has released its 2013 Annual Report on human rights and rule of law developments in China, which it is required to do by October 10 of each year.

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Parliamentarians call for global action on Tibet climate change crisis

4 December, 2009

Parliamentarians call for global action on Tibet climate change crisis

Thirty-five Parliamentarians from 16 different countries have written to the head of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen urging negotiators to take into account the global implications of climate change in Tibet.

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 the now melting glaciers will 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 downstream.

The Parliamentarians note in their letter that according to scientists, the Chinese government’s land-use policies of fast-track urbanization, infrastructure construction and resource exploitation are contributing to the acceleration of global warming and environmental destruction in Tibet. Chinese government policies that settle and displace nomads from the grasslands run counter to the latest scientific research that livestock mobility is critical to the health of the grasslands and that grazing can mitigate the negative warming effects on the rangelands. This means that Tibetans are being deprived of the stewardship of their land at a time of environmental crisis.


Matteo Mecacci, President, Tibet Intergroup of the Italian Parliament, said today: “The issue of the environmental degradation of the Tibetan plateau and the impact of climate change there should be addressed specifically by the Copenhagen summit. The policies of China toward Tibet are undermining not only the livelihood of Tibetan nomads and stakeholders, but also the preservation of natural resources that matter not only for Tibetans, but for hundreds of million of people in Asia and beyond. Therefore, we urge the negotiators in Copenhagen to address the issue of climate change in Tibet.”

OPEN LETTER to the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen on Tibet Role in Climate Change Solutions

Dear Conference participants:


We write to urge that the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen give serious attention to the ‘Third Pole’, as Tibet is known for being the largest repository of glacially stored water outside of the Arctic and Antarctic. 
We believe that multinational policies to mitigate the causes of and adapt to the effects of climate change must consider the challenges of climate change in Tibet, and include the direct participation of Tibetan stakeholders, particularly nomads.

This is now a global issue and of huge importance.

On November 18-19, parliamentarians from 30 countries met in Rome for the 5th World Parliamentary Convention on Tibet.
Climate change was a major topic of the discussion.  As a result, the Convention adopted a Declaration [1] that made the following findings:

 

“Environmental degradation on the Tibetan plateau, the so-called Third Pole, as a result of climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions, the mismanagement of natural resources by Chinese governmental and commercial interests, and the settlement of Tibetan nomads into fixed communities, which separates them from their traditional livelihood and stewardship of Tibetan grasslands; and Chinese policies to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change on the Tibetan plateau affect billions of people in Asia, and that the involvement and experience of Tibetans is integral to the successful implementation of climate change policies.”

Further, in the Declaration parliamentarians called on:


“Governments to explore multinational mechanisms to work collaboratively on the challenges of climate change in Tibet, including with the direct participation of Tibetan stakeholders. 
To this end, participants of this convention will draft and publish an open letter expressing the key importance of Tibet as the Third Pole prior to the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.”

According to Chinese meteorologists, temperatures on the Tibetan plateau are rising twice as fast as the rest of the earth, and Tibet is an increasingly important barometer of global climate change. Glaciers are melting, exposing dark rock and soil, and increasing the absorption of solar radiation. Due to resultant variations in the monsoon cycle, many areas on the Tibetan plateau are drying out and desertifying.


According to scientists, the Chinese government’s land-use policies are contributing to the acceleration of global warming and environmental destruction, including degradation of the grasslands, on the fragile high-altitude plateau. These land-use policies include the construction of infrastructure, an emphasis on urbanization despite a predominantly rural population, and the settlement of nomads, which is threatening one of the last examples of sustainable pastoralism on earth. Tibetans are being deprived of the stewardship of their land at a time of environmental crisis.


Because Tibet is the source of several of the world’s largest rivers and plays a prominent role in the Asian monsoon system, the consequences will affect the lives of millions of people downstream as well as those on the high plateau. In the long term, the disappearance of glaciers will create severe water shortages.
Millions of people in Asia have a stake in the fate of Tibet’s glaciers and grasslands.

Tibet
is central to a global climate change solution, and the Tibetan people must play a critical role in the implementation of solutions. In addition to providing river water and monsoon rains to much of Asia, Tibet’s grasslands, if properly repaired, can serve as a carbon sink.  Therefore, we urge 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. 
The participation of scientists and relevant stakeholders from Tibet and from those nations that depend on Tibet’s water is necessary for rigorous examination, analysis and interpretation of conditions on the plateau. This will facilitate an equitable and durable approach to adapting to and mitigating the affects of climate change in the region, including science-based ecosystem restoration and management of the plateau’s grasslands and forests.

2. Integrated participation of Tibetans, especially Tibetan nomads, in the decision-making and management of the plateau’s natural resources. Tibet’s nomads have been stewards of its rangelands for thousands of years. 
Their experience is essential not only for understanding changes in the ecosystem, but for addressing the threat of degradation of the grasslands. Unfortunately, government policies are ignoring this essential human resource and settling and displacing nomads from the grasslands in a misguided attempt to reduce desertification. This goes against the latest scientific research that states that livestock mobility is critical to the health of the grasslands and that grazing can mitigate the negative warming effects on the rangelands. There is increasing consensus among Chinese, Tibetan and Western scholars that the traditional ecosystem knowledge of nomadic pastoralists is an essential component of any solution.

3. Encourage trans-boundary collaborative decision-making and governance of the Tibetan plateau’s water resources, including all regional and local stakeholders. Such multi-national cooperation will enhance the effectiveness of mitigation policies and promote equitable adaptation strategies that can reduce the risk of conflict over competition for water resources.


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.


On behalf of the International Parliamentary Network on Tibet:


Matteo Mecacci, MP, President of the Parliamentary Intergroup on Tibet , Italy Consiglio Di Nino, Co-Chairman, Parliamentary Friends of Tibet, Canadian Senate Birgitta Jonsdottir, MP, President, The Parliamentary Intergroup on Tibet, Iceland Peter Slipper, MP, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet, Australian House of Representatives Sanjoy Takem, MP, President, Parliamentary Intergroup on Tibet, India Thomas Mann, MEP, President, Tibet Intergroup, EP Penpa Tsering, MP, Chairman, Tibetan Parliament in-exile, India Dolma Gyari, MP, Vice-Chairman, Tibetan Parliament in-exile, India Lionnel Luca, MP, President, Study Group on Tibet, French National Assembly Patrick Bloche, MP Vice-President, Study Group on Tibet, French National Assembly Dominique Tian, MP, Vice-President, Study Group on Tibet, French National Assembly Mark Durkan, MP, UK Norman Baker, MP, UK Kent Olsson, MP, Chairman, The Swedish Parliamentary Group on Tibet Xavier BAESELEN, MP, Belgium Dalia Kuodytė, MP, Chairman, the Lithuanian Parliamentary Group on Tibet Daniel Spagnou, MP, French National Assembly Harry Cohen, MP, UK Tim Loughton, MP, Shadow Minister for Children, UK Lord David Steel, MP, UK Isabelle Durant, MEP, Vice-President, EP Sukhdev Sharma, The European Economic and Social Committee Heidi Hautala, MEP, Vice- Chairman, Sub-Committee on Human Rights, EP Eva Lichtenberger, MEP Raul Romeva, MEP Georges DALLEMAGNE, MP, Belgium Mariko Peters, MP, The Netherlands Villy Sovndal, MP, Denmark Nathalie Griesbeck, MEP Aleksei Lotman, MP, Chairman,The Estonian Parliamentary Group on Tibet Beata Bublewicz, MP, Chairwoman, The Polish Parliamentary Group for Tibet Jolanta Szczypinska, MP, Poland Mike Pringle, MSP, Chairman,The Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Tibet