Australia must cut both population growth and consumption in accordance with the principles of sustainability, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).
Recently, the United Nations and World Business Council on Sustainable Development have estimated that industrialised countries like Australia need to achieve a ten-fold reduction in consumption of resources and a 20-fold increase in resource efficiency by 2040. At the same time there must be rapid transfers of knowledge and technology to developing countries*.
National Vice-President of SPA, Dr John Coulter, said today that any talk of increasing Australia’s population was irresponsible in light of the deteriorating global environment.
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been saying for 15 years that, merely to stabilise the atmosphere, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 60 to 80 per cent,” says Dr Coulter. “Given that Australia has the highest per capita emissions, for the sake of equity, we must bring them down to eight per cent of current levels.
“This is in line with what the UN and the World Business Council want. If we increase our population, however, there will have to be an even greater reduction in consumption and in greenhouse gas emissions,” he says.
Dr Coulter believes it is vital for both first world and developing countries to stabilise their populations, the first world because of its disproportionately high levels of consumption.
“To advocate a population of 50 million for Australia is to ignore the mounting evidence that humans are causing irreversible changes to the Earth’s natural systems,” he says. “If the environment deteriorates, so too does the economy and the welfare of people. You can’t separate the three.”
Dr Coulter added that those who wanted more people in Australia for humanitarian reasons, should consider that increased foreign aid is far more cost-effective means of helping people, and should include transfer of knowledge and technology to developing countries as the UN and World Business Council recommend.
* “Focus on the Future: Opportunities for Sustainability in Western Australia.” page 3. A consultation paper for Western Australia. Government of Western Australia, December 2001. Available at www.sustainability.dpc.wa.gov.au
John Coulter Ph: 08 8388 2153 E: email@example.com
Jenny Goldie (SPA National Director) Ph: 02 6235 5488 E: firstname.lastname@example.org