A new report commissioned by Population Matters has found that projected population growth in the next 22 years could cost UK taxpayers over £ one trillion gross in additional government spending and add a billion tonnes to our CO2 emissions – to mitigate which and just to stand still in total emissions would require renewables equivalent to 27,000 more wind turbines – by 2033. Government policy aims drastically to cut both the deficit and UK emissions.
The report calls for a policy of stabilising and then reducing the population, in contrast to the Government’s current passive “predict and provide” approach.
Roger Martin, chair of Population Matters, commented, “These are just two more examples of the damaging impact of UK population growth. Everyone knows more people consume more energy and emit more CO2; we’ve just put some numbers on it. Furthermore, none of that £ one trillion would be spent actually improving anything for anyone; it would just be trying to maintain standards. As long as our population continues to rise, we are always simply running to stand still like a hamster in a wheel, and leaving much less for real investment in real improvements. Meanwhile the environment would suffer and congestion increase anyway. If we could only stabilise our numbers, we could escape from the hamster wheel and go some where better”.
The report, a Masters dissertation by Erasmia Anastasaki of the London School of Economics, looked at the impact of the projected increase in the UK population from 62 million in 2009 to around 72 million in 2033, an increase of ten million over 24 years, assuming business as usual otherwise.
The additional £ one trillion comprised the cost of both new infrastructure and new service provision, and is a gross figure. “I was not going to ask a student to speculate about the UK’s economic growth (if any) and tax revenues over the next 22 years”, added Mr Martin. “Clearly no-one has the faintest idea. What we do understand, but most economists apparently don’t, is that building ever more hospitals and schools simply to play catch-up with population growth is not ‘investment’ in the classic sense of a current sacrifice for future gain. Indeed, it should rightly be a charge on current rather than capital expenditure.”
“We also know what our YouGov polls tell us”, he concluded, “that 80% of UK adults are already concerned at the impact of our rising numbers, and would prefer a smaller population – which is hardly surprising given that England is now the most crowded country in Europe”.
20% of the one billion tonne rise in carbon emissions over the period is related to the construction of additional infrastructure. Absolute levels will of course be affected by any changes in policy, technology, or consumer behaviour during the period.