Dalai Lama Joins Pope As Religious Leaders Campaigning Against Climate Change

Photo: Christopher Michel, Wikimedia CC

By Natasha Lasky, ODP Contributing Writer

In an interview with Channel 4 News and the Guardian, the Dalai Lama put out a call to action to fight climate change. He urged world leaders to take immediate action, emphasizing that the effects of global warming would disrupt billions of people’s lives, and would especially affect his home country of Tibet.  The Dalai  Lama rarely speaks on politics — he “retired from politics” in 2011, after leading the fight for Tibetan freedom from China, which sent him into exile. The issue is particularly personal for the Dalai Lama because it will especially affect Tibet. He told the Guardian that Tibet’s rivers will dry, and that “eventually Tibet will be like Afghanistan.” He also warns that a Tibetan drought would affect a billion people dependent on water from the plateau.

Why This Matters:  The Dalai Lama is a major global figure — a Nobel peace laureate, and considered by Buddhists to be the embodiment of enlightenment, sent to earth to guide others towards liberation. This news comes on the heels of the Pope’s unprecedented encyclical which called directly for divestment in fossil fuels and urged his supporters to consider the structural roots of the climate crisis. The Dalai Lama’s willingness to advocate for specific recommendations and urge the UN to “take a more active role” speaks to the magnitude of the climate issue.

“Buddha would Be Green”

Interestingly, he also said that if he were to join a political party now, “I would like to join the Green party. Their idea is very good.” In his interview with The Guardian, The Dalai Lama suggested a few specific ways for major countries to take action:

  • He is in favor of large-scale tree planting to absorb carbon from the atmosphere
  • He thinks global meat consumption should decrease substantially
  • He thinks world leaders should act on the Paris Agreement

That said, the Dalai Lama emphasized that the most effective way for him to take action on preventing climate change is to educate others and promote compassion. He believes that fighting climate change can unite the world, telling the Guardian: “We see too much emphasis on my nation, my religion, their religion. That really is causing all these problems due to different religions and different nations are fighting. So now we really need oneness.”

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