Population and climate change

Population and climate change are directly linked. Every person contributes to climate emissions during their lifetime, and the more of us there are, the more emissions we collectively generate.

This correlation is not straightforward, however. People in high-income countries have much larger carbon footprints than people in developing countries and choosing a small family may be the most impactful climate action individuals in wealthy countries can take.

People in poor countries are becoming wealthier and as countries develop, their emissions increase. Several studies have demonstrated that positive actions to slow global population growth, such as girls’ education and family planning, can have very significant effects on future emissions.

Learn more about climate change and population here.

See our latest news stories and blog posts about climate change below.

14 January 2021

Humanity headed towards ‘ghastly future’: Urgent warning from top scientists

An important new study warns that the world is failing to grasp the gravity of our environmental crises, and that without urgent action on the underlying causes, population and consumption growth, we face catastrophic mass extinction, climate disruption, and human suffering.

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Climate Change Briefing 2020

Briefings and submissions

Fully referenced four-page summary of evidence showing the link between population growth and climate change, and how ethical population solutions can help address it.

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12 December 2020

UN Summit: Are Climate Ambitions Falling Short?

With the virtual UN Climate Ambition Summit 2020 being held on the 12th of December, we ask why the rapid growth of the human population is still being left off the international agenda.

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17 November 2020

"The best decision of my life": The men who chose a vasectomy

World Vasectomy Day is an annual celebration of the men who choose a vasectomy to help share the burden of contraception and responsible family planning. We gathered testimonies from men across the world about their personal experiences of getting "the snip". 

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14 November 2020

Population must play a role in the climate conversation

How does population growth affect climate change? For this week's London Climate Action Week, PM Board Member and Director of Flight Free UK, Anna Hughes, reflects on her decision not to have children to reduce her carbon footprint.

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Biden 2020 flag
10 November 2020

Biden’s victory: What does it mean for women’s rights and the environment?

Sexual and reproductive health and rights and the environment saw several significant setbacks under the Trump administration. Now that Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris have won the US presidential election, what is likely to change? Senior Communications Officer Olivia Nater takes a look at key international policy issues.

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Starling
6 November 2020

UK report: Next generation will inherit worse environment

A new report shows the UK Government is way off course to meet its goal of improving the state of the environment for the next generation, with many areas continuing to deteriorate, including biodiversity, water pollution, and soil depletion.

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Power station
10 October 2020

Can we shrink our energy footprint?

A new study suggests we can reduce global energy consumption by 75% and still lead comfortable lives. To achieve that, the authors say we need "radical action on all fronts", including addressing vast disparities in consumption across the world. Can we do it?

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David Attenborough on Easter Island
7 October 2020

Attenborough film: Saving our planet requires ending population growth

David Attenborough's 'A Life On Our Planet' highlights the rampant destruction of nature caused by human population growth and unsustainable consumption, as well as the positive and urgently needed actions we must take to save our one and only planet. Population Matters Director Robin Maynard reviews the film.

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The Unmet Contraceptive Needs of Women and Girls - 2020

Briefings and submissions

A four-page summary outlining the unmet contraceptive needs of women and girls globally and the relationship between the provision of modern family planning and social and environmental issues.

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