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"Buddha would be Green"





In the week the Cop26 UN climate conference was to have been held in Glasgow, his Holiness, the Dalai Lama says he has high expectations of world leaders and wants them to act on the Paris Climate Agreement.


Tibet's spiritual leader has also just co-authored a book called 'Our Only Home - A climate appeal to the world', in which he pleads the case for renewable energy and vegetarianism alongside Buddhist thinking on compassion and altruism. And he declared that if Buddha returned to this world, "Buddha would be green".



Having retired from politics, with a passion for ecology, this 85 year old Nobel Peace Laureate is calling on governments and individuals to take action to stop climate change, warning of ecological destruction ruining the planet, including his birth country, Tibet. In the Himalayas, against whose backdrop he currently lives, glaciers are melting and billions of people in China and India depend on them for water. Forests around the world are being destroyed but in Buddhism, trees are sacred - they sheltered Buddha during his birth, enlightenment and his death and the Dalai Lama says he is in favour of large-scale tree planting to help tackle climate change. In an interview for Channel 4 News and The Guardian he warned that "global warming may reach such a level that rivers will dry" and that "eventually Tibet will become like Afghanistan", with terrible consequences for at least a billion people dependent on their water.


One step towards helping to combat climate change, he says, is to stop eating meat, pointing out that cattle not only produce methane, a greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming, but that it also takes a lot of land to grow food to feed livestock, making meat production a leading cause of deforestation. Considered by his followers to be the earthly manifestation of an enlightened one who has chosen rebirth in order to help liberate all living beings from suffering through compassion, the Dalia Lama says, "Not only is it a question of a sense of love but itself, you see, is very bad for ecology. We should promote vegetarianism as much as we can."


In his interview he says his greatest personal contribution to fighting climate change is education and promoting the concept of compassion but he's most passionate when talking about his idea of oneness among 7 billion people. "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." However with a sense of humour, he also suggests locking all world leaders in a room and "piping carbon dioxide into it until they realise what climate change really means! "


'Our Only Home: A Climate Appeal to the World', by Dalai Lama and Franz Alt is published by Hanover Square Press.