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Speaking out on climate change

Population Matters’ Patron, Sir David Attenborough, is spearheading ‘The People’s Seat’ at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP24)  in Poland this December. In a short video by the UNFCC secretariat, Sir David urges millions to take the seat and act on climate change using the hashtag #TakeYourSeat.  

Utilising the results of social media posts and polling, the initiative provides the opportunity for the global public to influence discussions at the critical meeting. The International Panel on Climate Change’s recent Global Warming of 1.5°C report has highlighted the dangers of inadequate action to curb carbon emissions.

Collective Global Action

“…This is our opportunity to collectively make a difference…”

Sir David Attenborough

While the chair will be empty in the plenary during the talks, millions of people globally will be settled in it virtually, and actively participating digitally through social media. 

WPP agencies

The campaign is a brainchild of Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), who said,

“…The People’s Seat initiative provides the impulse for seriously ramping up global solidarity, especially among the young who, at the end of the day, are the ones who will have to deal with the mess we have left them with.”

The hashtag #TakeYourSeat, already trending on Twitter, will be used, and responses on social media will help determine the speech to be given by sir david at the meeting, which beginds on 3 December.

For over 50 years, the legendary naturalist, and broadcaster has informed the public about wildlife and the natural world, consistently pointing out the correlation between overpopulation and environmental destruction. 

Population and climate change

Global warming is due to anthropogenic causes, mainly the burning of fossil fuels which releases CO2. The huge numbers of people being born continue to add carbon emitters. A study published in 2017 found that the most effective long term action people in the developed world can take to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions is to have one fewer child.

The 13 days Katowice Climate Change Conference will address the challenge of keeping global temperatures to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommended 1.5 degrees Celsius rise, in line with the Paris Agreement.

In the IPCC report released earlier in October, there is an acknowledgment that high population growth is a “key impediment” to reaching climate targets – but no call for action on population. This recognition by itself is inadequate if solutions are not provided.

In 2017, 20,000 world’s scientists signed up to a paper identifying population growth as a “primary driver” of multiple environmental problems, including climate change, stating that “it will take a groundswell of public and corporate pressure to convince political leaders to avoid a catastrophic future’”

Take Action

To achieve a low carbon world, in ddition to changes in individual behaviour and economic policies, we need to have fewer emitters. We are happy to see that some people have started demanding that leaders at COP24 make a connection between population growth and climate change. In addition to the hashtag #TakeYourSeat, we urge you to add #PopulationMatters or tag @PopnMatters.

You could also participate in the ActNOW BOT that will be launched in the UN’s Facebook messenger to engage the public further after the conference.  

Through the hashtag #TakeYourSeat, we urge the public to put pressure on world leaders to take action on climate change – and address the unprecedented population projected by the UN.


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