MR: reducing population growth can help climate mitigation

15 January 2013

Media Releases 2013

The current record-breaking heatwave that has affected continental Australia is a symptom of climate change, according to Sustainable Population Australia Inc. (SPA).

SPA national president, Ms Sandra Kanck, says reducing population growth is an integral part of climate change mitigation.

“We commend the Australian Government for increasing funding to family planning, but at a mere one per cent of our international aid, it is not enough,” says Ms Kanck. “At the same time, Australia’s record high immigration rate will make it impossible for Australia to achieve its fair share of emissions reductions. As one of the highest per-capita emitters, each migrant adopting an Australian lifestyle adds between 10 and 20 tonnes per year to global emissions.

“Global warming is creating an Australian climate in which we are seeing a greater prevalence of hot, dry days with a greater risk of bushfire,” she says. “The ten hottest years on record in Australia have occurred since 1998.”

Ms Kanck cited the UN Population Division’s 2010 World Population Prospects that noted that mid-century global population projections range between 8 and 10.5 billion, with a mid-estimate of 9.2 billion. The difference between eight billion and nine billion people is between one and four billion tonnes of carbon per year, according to the report. “William Ryerson of the Population Media Centre said in a recent interview that going from seven to nine billion people in the world is the equivalent of adding two United States in emissions terms,” Ms Kanck says.

A 2010 paper by Brian C. O’Neill et al published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (PNAS), showed that “reduced population growth could make a significant contribution to global emissions reductions.” It found that following a lower population path could achieve 16–29% of desired emission reduction goals by 2050 and even more significantly, reduce total emissions use by 37–41% by the end of the century.

“Fewer extra people not only means less fossil fuel use, it means less deforestation where forests are cut down to grow food; and it means less intensification of agriculture,” says Ms Kanck.

“Ross Garnaut in his report to government has noted that agriculture in Australia contributes 16.8 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. While two-thirds of our food is exported, as demand increases from population growth here and overseas, there will be greater pressure to intensify agriculture or turn more native bush over to growing food. Both activities will increase emissions. Perversely, that will aggravate climate change which will, in turn, make it harder to grow food.”

Further information: Sandra Kanck 0417882143


Climate Change , population
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