Population Matters

Report: Population key to controlling climate change

Report: Population key to controlling climate change

Drawdown book cover
Cover of the Drawdown book

Analysis undertaken for a comprehensive new plan to reverse global warming, Drawdown, has identified family planning and educating girls as among the top 10 workable solutions available today. Together, they would reduce CO2 emissions by 120 gigatons by 2050 — more than onshore and offshore wind power combined.

“Drawdown” is the point in time when greenhouse gas concentrations peak in the atmosphere and begin to go down on a year-to-year basis. The Drawdown project is an international effort, involving 70 research fellows from 22 countries and six continents. The nonprofit organisation is a coalition of scholars, scientists and advocates from across the globe that is modeling, and communicating about a collective array of substantive solutions to global warming, with the goal of reaching drawdown.

The report makes a simple case:

“Carbon footprints are a common topic. Addressing population—how many feet are leaving their tracks—remains controversial despite widespread agreement that greater numbers place more strain on the planet.

“Honoring the dignity of women and children through family planning is not about governments forcing the birth rate down (or up, through natalist policies). Nor is it about those in rich countries, where emissions are highest, telling people elsewhere to stop having children. When family planning focuses on healthcare provision and meeting women’s expressed needs, empowerment, equality, and well-being are the result; the benefits to the planet are side effects.”

About education for women and girls, it says:

“Education lays a foundation for vibrant lives for girls and women, their families, and their communities. It also is one of the most powerful levers available for avoiding emissions by curbing population growth.”

The project has evaluated and ranked 80 solutions, including plant-based diets, solar farms and electric vehicles.  Among the criteria used in evaluation were whether the solution is currently available and its economic viability.

Commonwealth of Nations flag
Flag of the Commonwealth of Nations

Drawdown has been appointed by the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Patricia Scotland, to collaborate with the Commonwealth on future research. Secretary Scotland has committed the Commonwealth to integrating Drawdown into the economic and ecologic portfolios of the fifty-two countries that comprise the Commonwealth.

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