Research we recently commissioned in partnership with Lancaster University has revealed that investing in family planning services is an even more cost-effective way to abate carbon dioxide emissions than previously thought.
Reducing future energy demand by preventing unwanted births and hence lifetimes in developed as well as developing countries is far cheaper than any renewable energy alternative. The benefits multiply in perpetuity via each never-existing person’s never-existing descendants. Furthermore, by reducing the sizes of future populations, the same dollar spent has many other benefits: improving food and water security; reducing soil degradation and desertification; helping to prevent civil conflict and mass migration; protecting biodiversity; empowering women; improving health; stimulating economic development; and reducing unemployment and poverty.
In 2014, more than half of women of reproductive age in developing regions wished to avoid pregnancy. However, approximately 25 per cent of these women — about 225 million — were not using effective contraceptive methods. Those not doing so account for approximately 81 per cent of all unintended pregnancies in developing regions. A respected analysis has shown that fully meeting the global need for modern contraceptive services would cost only about $9.4 billion.
Population Matters Chair Roger Martin said, “Government has been reluctant to consider population size and growth as relevant to energy demand. This study should make them think — not least because the potential cost savings to the taxpayer are enormous. Family planning is a highly cost-effective complement to — not a substitute for — the conventional United Nations approach and if they are serious about climate change it would be irresponsible to ignore it.”