Population Matters

Family planning to fight climate change

Family planning to fight climate change

Professor John Guillebaud, Population Matters patronIn an article for the British Medical Journal, Professor John Guillebaud, our patron, calls for voluntary family planning to minimise and mitigate climate change.

The article, also available here, argues that, “simply put, climate change is caused by excessive production of greenhouse gases. As highlighted by the late Professor Tony McMichael, the ‘cause(s) of the causes’ should not be overlooked. With climate change already close to an irreversible tipping point, urgent action is needed to reduce not only our mean (carbon) footprints but also the ‘number of feet’ — that is, the growing population either already creating large footprints or aspiring to do so.

“Wise and compassionate promotion of contraceptive care and education in a rights-based, culturally appropriate framework offers a cost-effective strategy to reduce greenhouse gases. This article outlines the evidence for voluntary, accessible family planning as a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.”

Professor Guillebaud concludes that:

  • Family planning is preventive medicine and could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single available technology
  • Benignly delivered, family planning reduces greenhouse gas emissions and also conserves habitats
  • The low-carbon benefit of one less birth is greater in affluent settings than in poorer ones
  • Climate-concerned health professionals should therefore promote parental replacement fertility
  • Action on population growth as well as technology and consumption is essential to ensure that climate mayhem is both minimised and mitigated

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