U.N. Climate Change Sec.: ‘We Should Do Everything Possible’ to Decrease Population

Brad Fox | April 6, 2015
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Climate One founder Greg Dalton and the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) Christiana Figueres held a climate change discussion in 2013 about the role of women in fighting global warming.

Ms. Figueres had just spoken about women’s roles in developing countries with the food, water, and energy supplies, which she said places them at the forefront of negative climate impacts. She said women in developing countires, if given the necessary tools, can be like “little ants of change” to reduce carbon footprints.

The topic then moved to fertility rates and population:

DALTON: A related issue is fertility rates in population. A lot of people in energy and environmental circles don’t wanna go near that because it’s politically charged. It’s not their issue. But isn’t it true that stopping the rise of the population would be one of the biggest levers and driving the rise of green house gases?

FIGUERES: I mean we all know that we expect nine billion, right, by 2050. So, yes, obviously less people would exert less pressure on the natural resources.

DALTON: So is nine billion a forgone conclusion? That’s like baked in, done, no way to change that?

FIGUERES: Well there again, there is pressure in the system to go toward that; we can definitely change those, right? We can definitely change those numbers and really should make every effort to change those numbers because we are already, today, already exceeding the planet’s planetary carrying capacity, today. To say nothing of adding more population that is really going to overextend our capacity. So yes we should do everything possible. But we cannot fall into the very simplistic opinion of saying just by curtailing population then we’ve solved the problem. It is not either/or, it is an and/also.

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