Ending world population growth as soon as possible is critical if the world is to limit global warming to 2oC, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).
Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its report issued yesterday said ‘urgent action’ is needed if we are to keep within the internationally agreed limit of 2oC.
According to Dutch economist Reyer Gerlagh, co-ordinating lead author of one of the report's chapters, growth in emissions is currently tied to economic and population growth. It would take ‘a drastic change to the system’ to break this connection.
SPA National President, Ms Jenny Goldie, says if growth in greenhouse gas emissions is tied to ‘economic and population growth’, then it follows that ending population growth is essential if the world is to limit warming to 2oC.
The UN’s middle projection for 2050 is 9.6 billion, a third more than the current population of 7.2 billion.
“If we go to 9.6 billion, we would emit a third more greenhouse gases by mid-century from population growth alone,” says Ms Goldie. “Yet significant reductions in emissions are needed by then.
“Population stabilisation and even reduction has to be an essential part of the mitigation mix. Moving to a low carbon economy is, of course, necessary with fossil fuels phased out as quickly as possible. If, however, population continues to grow inexorably, then any success in emission reduction through adopting low carbon technologies is likely to be offset by population growth.”
Ms Goldie noted that the IPCC media release had said: ‘Land is another key component for the 2°C goal. Slowing deforestation and planting forests have stopped or even reversed the increase in emissions from land use.’
“Yet while ever there are more mouths to feed, more forests will be cut down to grow food. There is no way growth in yields on current farmland will provide for the growing population, especially in light of climate change. More people mean fewer forests,” Ms Goldie says.