IIASA releases scientific study linking population growth to climate change

Slower population growth would significantly reduce climate change over the next century and increase the ability of developing countries to adapt to changing climate patterns, according to a new study from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). The study finds that a more slowly growing population would produce less greenhouse gas emissions and would be more resilient to climate stresses on agriculture, human health, and migration. Although climate change policy makers have prioritized policies in energy efficiency and other technological fields, they have overlooked population factors, such as growth, aging and urbanization, which have significant climate implications.

The authors stress that since growth rates change slowly, the climate-related benefits of population policies would appear many decades in the future and would not help meet short-term goals, such as the emissions targets agreed to by industrialized countries in the Kyoto Protocol. However, realizing the long-term benefits would require strengthening population policies now.

According to Cambridge University Economist Partha Dasgupta, "This is the first systematic, quantitative work to be done on population, climate, and the environment. It is expert, thorough, and what is most pertinent, believable. It will prove to be the starting point for anyone who wishes to understand and work on this most important of problem areas." Stanford University's Steve Schneider agrees the book is "A well argued and comprehensive treatment of the role of population in the climate change debate that belongs on the shelf of everyone who is seriously interested in climate policy."


Contact: Karen Gerwitz
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

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