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.

Blue tit
27 March 2019

UK nature under assault: failed biodiversity targets and water stress

The United Kingdom is already one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, yet the onslaught on our natural environment is showing no signs of slowing. Two key new reports demonstrate that UK wildlife and freshwater sources face a dire future unless urgent action is taken to protect them.

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Sir David Attenborough speaking at COP24
19 December 2018

UN climate talks: disappointments and silver linings

UN climate talks in Poland finished late last Saturday night after two weeks of painfully slow and frustrating negotiations. But what was agreed and will the outcomes help avert catastrophic climate change?

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23 November 2018

Speaking out on climate change

Population Matters' Patron, Sir David Attenborough, is fronting the 'People’s Seat' at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Poland this December. The initiative offers the global public the opportunity to have a presence at discussions through social media.

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8 October 2018

IPCC report: we need net zero by 2050

Disappointingly, the report does not call for action on population but acknowledges that high population growth is a “key impediment” to reaching climate targets.

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Population Matters climate change conferece 2018
5 March 2018

Empowering women and melted ice: PM conference 2018

On Saturday, Population Matters’s 2018 conference, Climate change and Us: more feet, more heat? took place in London. Hundreds of people turned up. Our international panel covered a wide range of topics, including the effects of climate change, its impacts on food supply, the challenges of empowering women and the future paths of population and emissions.

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21 July 2017

Smaller families most effective action on global warming

Last week, researchers from Lund University and University of British Columbia published a widely-reported article highlighting the top ‘high-impact’ actions individuals can take to reduce their carbon emissions and fight climate change. They concluded that having fewer children would have the greatest impact over the long term.

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