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.

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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