ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

Across the globe, there are countless examples of people organizing against environmental threats like mining and deforestation. The highest plateau on Earth, the Tibetan ecosystem is particularly impacted by global climate change, further exacerbated by the resource exploitative economy of the Chinese occupation.

Below are inspiring examples of people taking strategic action to protect their environment—inside Tibet and around the world.

MINING IN ZATOE

Residents of Zatoe County, Tibet come together in a strategic campaign that succeeds in halting all mining in the region, achieving a major victory for Tibetans.

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SNUB-NOSED MONKEY

The efforts of Chinese environmentalists help protect the endangered Snub-nosed Monkey from illegal logging, launching the environmental movement in China.

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TIGER LEAPING GORGE

Villagers from at least six minority groups in Yunnan Province come together to stop a massive dam at one of the world’s deepest river canyons—Tiger Leaping Gorge.

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DALIAN CHEMICAL PLANT

Tens of thousands of people take to the internet and join together in the streets, forcing the immediate closure of a para xylene chemical plant in Dalian, China.

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TREES OF MESHO

In 2010, villagers in Mesho force loggers out of their forests, forming a blockade to keep them out and save their lands from logging and destruction.

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JAMES BAY DAM

After fighting the James Bay Hydroelectric Project for three decades, Cree and Inuit peoples in Canada stop the second phase through a creative publicity campaign.

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APPLE’S POISON SUPPLY

The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) and allies demand that technology companies like Apple begin to clean up their Chinese supply chains.

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BEIJING PM2.5

In 2012, widespread internet pressure in China forces the government to change pollution monitoring systems to reflect more accurate readings.

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Halting Mining Operations in Zatoe

With illegal mining at sacred mountain sites threatening their lands, the residents of Zatoe County in Eastern Tibet began a campaign to halt all local mining activities. They strategically framed the issue as one of corruption and environmental protection instead of as anti-Chinese business. At one point, protesters were violently attacked by armed police, but remained united. Through pressure on mining officials and government representatives in Zatoe and Beijing—as well as international media coverage of protests—they succeeded in designating the region a National Protected Natural Area. This signified a major victory and precedent for Tibetans.

 

SOME TACTICS USED
  • MASS STREET PROTEST
  • DIRECT INTERVENTION
  • PETITIONS, LETTERS
  • LEGAL ARGUMENT

How the Snub-Nosed Monkey Built China’s Environmental Movement

The Snub-nosed Monkey of Dechen county, Eastern Tibet (Yunnan Province) inspired China’s first coordinated environmental protection effort. With logging in an enormous 20% of the their habitat, the Snub-nosed monkeys had been pushed to the brink of extinction. In two rounds of organizing over several years, prominent Chinese environmentalists successfully heightened community awareness and pushed Chinese officials to intervene. The effort built the skills and networks of Chinese activists, helping develop the environmental movement in China for the future.

SOME TACTICS USED
  • PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN
  • PETITIONS, LETTERS
  • DOCUMENTARY FILM

Stopping the Dam at Tiger Leaping Gorge

The Yunnan provincial government and the Huaneng Energy Corp had plans to build a massive dam at Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the world’s deepest river canyons and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The proposed project would flood prime agricultural land, threaten 200 species of wildlife, and displace more than 100,000 residents—including Tibetans and people from the Nakhi, Bai, Yi, Miao, and Lisu minorities. The local communities came together, though, and after major organizing, publicity efforts, protests, and direct action, they succeeded in cancelling the dam at Tiger Leaping Gorge.

SOME TACTICS USED
  • PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN
  • PETITIONS, LETTERS
  • MASS STREET PROTEST

No Poison in Dalian: Shutting Down a Chemical Plant

When a storm broke free around twenty metal tanks at a chemical plant in Dalian, China, residents took to the internet to express their suspicion of the government’s claim that no chemicals were released. When it was leaked that the plant did not followed proper procedure in its initial set-up, people seized the opportunity and mobilized. They organized a sit-in and a “group stroll” to the municipal building where tens of thousands of people refused to leave until receiving a commitment from officials that the plant would close and move. The next day, the plant stopped production.

SOME TACTICS USED
  • ONLINE ORGANIZING
  • SIT-IN
  • MASS STREET PROTEST
  • NEGOTIATION

Saving the Trees of Mesho

In the Tibetan area of Mesho, three villages came together to save their forests from destruction, chasing loggers out of their camp, sabotaging their machinery, and setting up a blockade to prevent further logging. News of the villagers’ bold action inspired the involvement of allies from environmental organizations in China such as Green Beagle and Greenpeace. The research and reporting on the situation by international allies placed the issue in the larger context of deforestation in the region, with the spotlight likely helping keep the villagers safe from retaliation.

SOME TACTICS USED
  • DIRECT INTERVENTION
  • PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN
  • ONLINE ORGANIZING

Indigenous Rights Affirmed in Canada with James Bay Dam Victory

When Canadian company Hydro-Quebec launched the James Bay Hydroelectric Project, the affected Cree and Inuit communities pushed back. For three decades, they fought two rounds of dam projects, using the courts and negotiations at first, followed by a strategic and creative publicity campaign in Canada and the Northeastern United States. A diverse and vibrant coalition mobilized intense grassroots pressure, stopping the second phase of the project. The victory established a new level of influence for Cree and Inuit communities with regard to the Québec government and development on Indigenous lands.

SOME TACTICS USED
  • PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN
  • PETITIONS, LETTERS
  • LEGAL ARGUMENT
  • DIVESTMENT CAMPAIGN

Cleaning up Apple’s Poison Supply Chain

In 2009, nearly 50% of the world’s computers, cell phones, and digital cameras were being produced in Guangdong Province, China. Multinational technology companies like Apple refused to take responsibility for the pollution caused by their suppliers. A coalition of organizations including the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) began a corporate responsibility campaign, linking tech companies to their suppliers. Through persistent publicity and escalating tactics, companies like Apple finally began acknowledging issues with their supply chains.

SOME TACTICS USED
  • PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN
  • PETITIONS, LETTERS
  • ONLINE ORGANIZING

Beijing Smog: The Fight for Accurate Pollution Reporting

For several years after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, pollution monitors in China reported air quality as “good” or “excellent” 80% of the time. Meanwhile, parallel data streams like the U.S. Embassy reported 80% of days as unhealthy. Online outrage surged, and in 2012, the Chinese government was pressed to change its monitoring systems to the more accurate readings of PM2.5, four years ahead of schedule. From blog writers to netizens to online journalists, this government reaction to public pressure showed great possibility for the power of widespread internet mobilization.

SOME TACTICS USED
  • ONLINE ORGANIZING
  • POLLING
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