The Population/Climate Change Connection
Population Matters have given a grant from their carbon offsets scheme ‘PopOffsets’ to fund a website for the Population and Climate Change African Forum (PACCAF). PopOffsets (www.popoffsets.com
) is unique among such schemes in supporting family planning in developing countries and the UK, thereby helping to prevent unwanted pregnancies and thus to reduce the number of future carbon emitters and climate change victims (as well as improving women’s and children’s health and sustainable development prospects).
Previous grants have funded contraceptive services in a marine conservation and family planning project in Madagascar, and contraceptive advice by the Brook Institute in the UK.
PACCAF was formed at an East African regional conference in Kampala a year ago, bringing together climate and health NGOs from nine countries in the region, and now attracting interest from across the continent. Its strongly worded Joint Position Statement (attached) appeals for more understanding in Africa, other regions of the Global South and the West of the crisis of rapid population growth in its members’ countries, which worsens all their problems of adaptation to climate change as well as increasing their own carbon emissions (eg firewood, reducing forest cover). It rejects the “false argument” that prioritising family planning is “blaming the victims” of climate change.
PACCAF is hosted by the Ecological Christian Organisation (www.ecouganda.org
) in Kampala, and Climate Action Network East Africa is part of it. As its own network expands, it needs a modern website to inform members and others of its initiatives, notably in lobbying at the UN Climate Talks for its “demand” that the population multiplier be included in UN climate programmes, and funding for family planning and women’s empowerment projects be increased.
PACCAF Director Isaac Kabongo said: “Population is the ‘elephant in the room’ at the climate talks. As Kofi Annan said, ‘Population stabilization should be a priority for sustainable development”. Until population growth in rich and poor countries alike is recognized as a key driver of rising carbon emissions and of our intractable adaptation problems, there is no hope of real success at the climate talks. Climate stabilization without population stabilization is impossible; and we hope our draft text acknowledging this* is adopted at the Durban climate conference this December. We are very grateful to Population Matters for helping us get this very crucial message across”.
Population Matters Chair Roger Martin said: “We greatly admire PACCAF’s initiative in campaigning for realism across the continent worst affected by both soaring populations and climate change. Of course the main climate driver is excessive emissions by rich Western countries, which is why we also campaign for non-coercive population stabilisation policies in all countries, alongside radical reductions in emissions in developed countries. This applies notably in the UK, where the ten million more people we are projected to have in the next 22 years would have the carbon footprint of eg 220 million more Malawians – we estimate an additional billion tonnes. But globally and nationally, it’s no use reducing your carbon footprint if you keep increasing the number of feet”.
*The draft text being promoted by PACCAF reads:
DRAFT TEXT FOR COP 17
[The conference] Recognises that population growth: increases total carbon emissions, especially in developed countries; increases the number of victims requiring adaptation measures, especially women in developing countries; inhibits economic development, notably in the least developed countries; thus worsens all problems of both mitigation and adaptation; and can be countered cost-effectively by meeting the unmet need for reproductive health care; by women’s empowerment, gender-equality, and the right to family planning; and by non-coercive population stabilisation policies in all countries.
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