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Dalai Lama WikiLeak: Climate Change More Important Than Independence Now

In a WikiLeaked document, conversations between the Dalai Lama and the U.S. Ambassador to India indicate that the environment is to take precedence over independence, signaling a massive policy change for China and the region.

Assange and Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama wants to shift the global dialogue surrounding Tibet and its independence to one that focuses on climate change in the Himalayas instead, according to a conversation noted in a leaked cable on WikiLeaks between the U.S. ambassador to India, Timothy Roemer, and the Dalai Lama, as reported by the Asia Times Online.

"The political agenda should be sidelined for five to 10 years and the international community should shift its focus to climate change on the Tibetan plateau. Melting glaciers, deforestation, and increasingly polluted water from mining projects were problems that 'cannot wait,' but the Tibetans could wait five to 10 years for a political solution," said the Dalai Lama.

The issue of climate change in the Himalayas is grave and has prompted the Nepali Cabinet to hold meetings at Everest Base Camp to raise awareness and numerous environmental groups have drawn attention to the issue by staging Everest trash cleanups.

But beyond the issue of climate change, changing the focus of any dialogue on Tibet represents a massive change on the part of the exiled Tibetan government, one that is sometimes seen as soft and is unwelcome by hard-line Tibet activists.

"The Dalai Lama requested the United States consider engaging China on environmental issues in Tibet," said the memo. And "the Dalai Lama's message may signal a broader shift in strategy to reframe the Tibet issue as an environmental concern," said Roemer.

Regarding Tibetans' stance on China and their energy policies—they have made their criticisms known before in previous pleas to the United Nations.

"Now the international pressure on Beijing will increase, and the international community will convince Chinese leaders that it is in China's own interest to develop a plan which would enrich the Chinese people and ensure sustainability, but does not damage China's environment," said the exiled Tibetan government spokesman, Samphel Thupten.

But the way forward depends on which exiled Tibetan entity you ask—moderate or radical.

"Our concern is its political value. Climate change in Tibet affects all of Asia. Then of course, the global climate campaigners will join us to pressure China. Climate is a way to keep the issue of Tibet at a global level and gain us more supporters," said Tibetan Youth Congress joint secretary, Tenzin Norsang.

Follow me, Jenara Nerenberg, on Twitter.

[Image: Antoine Taveneaux]

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  • Christine Maingard

    His Holiness the Dalai Lama knows that there is no future for Tibet if climate change does not take precedence over anything else. Climate change anywhere affects anything in the world. We need to act now and we need to act fast. Climate change and resource scarcity (I am not talking about oil here, but water, food, etc) will bring about social upheaval together with political and economic instability. In a 2008 report the World Bank discusses a causal model between climate change and (armed) conflict, and foreshadows a “threat multiplier” with anticipated massive migration, conflict and economic collapses, particularly in volatile regions. The report then identifies key areas of focus for more research.

    Research and more debate??? Fast action and more action is what’s needed now – at all levels of our societies. But I fear that while global conglomerates keep focusing on making more profit than ever and keep exploiting and polluting the environment, our future looks grim. We can’t survive without the planet, but the planet will survive and thrive without us. Shouldn’t perhaps ‘eco-psychology’ with its profound messages on how we can heal ourselves through healing our planet be on everybody’s mind?

    Christine Maingard
    Author of Think Less, Be More http://www.mindfulstrategies.c...

  • Scott Byorum

    Yeah, let's hear the deniers: "Oh no, it's all a big lie; it's all a conspiracy! Science is wrong; science is a fraud!" Get off the Xbox and go visit the Himalayas, fools.

  • Brian Hunt

    If only the leaders of all major countries could understand what the Dalai Lama realises all too well.The human race is the only species in 4-billion years to destroy its environment, rather than adapt to it and live within it while preserving it.
    We don't have much time left, and countries stick their head deep in the sand, proclaiming it's a hoax and won't happen. I have news for them: "It's already happening!"
    Brian Hunt at Power Business Publishing