It’s not a topic that comes up in high-level international negotiations on climate change. Yet who would disagree that when individuals and couples use modern contraception to plan childbearing according to a schedule that suits them, they tend to have fewer children than they would otherwise? Could it be that this aspect of family planning, multiplied hundreds of millions of times, might lessen the severity of human-caused climate change and boost societies’ capacity to adapt to it?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, after all, recently noted that population and economic growth “continue to be the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.” Not many analysts see “win-win” opportunities in reining in economic growth. Population growth, by contrast, might be slowed as a side effect of efforts that have multiple other benefits — such as education, empowerment of women, and the provision of reproductive health services including safe and effective contraception. And there’sreason to believe that slower population growth also makes societies more resilient to the impacts of climate change already upon us or on the way.
This line of reasoning raises concerns among some groups that are active in climate change advocacy, who argue that linking family planning to climate change amounts to blaming parents of large families in developing countries for a phenomenon caused more by smaller but high-consuming families in industrialized countries. A more pragmatic worry may be the less-than-generous pie of international funding available to address climate change. Should family planning have precedence over renewable energy and direct efforts to adapt to climate change, when the needs are so great and the financial resources to address them are already insufficient?
Studies have shown that improved access to birth control can be a valuable tool in slowing global warming, but many politicians are afraid to broach the subject.
The equation seems fairly simple: The more the world’s population rises, the greater the strain on dwindling resources and the greater the impact on the environment. The solution? Well, that’s a little trickier to talk about. (…)
“We want to achieve agreement on what the climate commitments are from individual countries,” said Alexander Ochs of the Worldwatch Institute. “There’s a new opportunity here, a new approach that takes a bottom-up look at what countries want to bring to the table. … We’re just focused now on getting over the stumbling blocks.”
You can find the full article [here].
October 30, 2014 |By Niina Heikkinen and ClimateWire Family planning could help reduce the pressure human population puts on the planet, but not for decades. This week, a group of researchers promoted a different kind of global approach to addressing climate change: voluntary family planning.(…)
Reducing population growth and lowering fertility will improve communities’ resilience and adaptive capacity in the short term, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the long term, population reductions could reduce the risk of climate impacts, according to the working group. It presented its proposals at a forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., yesterday.
“Far too often in the past, it has been approached as giving up freedom, rather than looking at family planning as creating greater freedom and greater happiness,” said Alexander Ochs, director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Worldwatch Institute.
He described the working group’s promotion of family planning as a “women-centered rights-based approach” that focused on the “urgency and right of determining the timing and spacing of having children.”
Efforts to control fertility improve maternal and child health and welfare, while also conserving natural resources, he added.
You can find the full article [here].
Co-author: Shakuntala Makhijani
The European Environment Agency (EEA) yesterday released its greenhouse gas inventory for 2008, showing a two-percent fall from 2007 levels across EU-27 countries and an 11.3-percent reduction from 1990 levels. The new data also show that the EU-15 (the 15 only EU members in 1997 when the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated) have reduced emissions by 6.9 percent since 1990, putting those countries on track to meet their Kyoto Protocol commitment of reducing 2008-2012 emissions by an average of 8-percent below 1990 levels. The European Commission points out that the EU-15 emission reduction—a 1.9-percent drop from 2007 to 2008—came as the region’s economy grew 0.6 percent, suggesting that economic growth and emissions cuts can be compatible.
Just last month, the European Commission had announced that emissions covered under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) fell even more rapidly: verified emissions from covered installations were 11.6-percent lower last year than in 2008. EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard cautioned that these reductions are largely due to the economic crisis, as opposed to ambitious actions by covered industry. The crisis has also weakened price signals in the trading scheme and slowed business investment in emissions-reducing innovations.
Earlier this year, the European Commission began arguing that the Union should commit to deeper cuts than a 20-percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2020, calling instead for a 30-percent decrease. It released figures showing that, largely due to the economic crisis, the annual costs for cutting emissions will be lower than originally estimated by 2020. In 2008, the EU estimated that €70 billion per year would be necessary to meet the 20-percent target, but this cost estimate has now fallen to just €48 billion. For a 30-percent target during the same timeframe, the new projected annual cost is €81 billion—only €11 billion more than what EU countries have already accepted under the 20-percent target.
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