Porritt decries silence on population
By Daniel Nelson
June 19, 2009
The “astonishing” refusal of climate activists to discuss the impact of population growth on emissions was criticised by environmentalist Jonathon Porritt at a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change in the Palace of Westminster this week.
Given that the thrust of climate debate was to talk about emissions per person on the planet, he said, it was mystifying why activists were so nervous about discussing population numbers.
“People get hot under the collar,” he commented. “Why are we so resistant to discussing population as a contributor to the climate debate? I am completely baffled.”
Porritt is a patron of Optimum Population Trust, which backs a “Stop at Two” campaign.
He dismissed as “specious” the argument that discussion of population would muddle the climate issue. Also worrying was the argument that the population debate came with a raft of controversy that was difficult to steer a way through.
Porritt said promotion of reproductive health was one of the most
progressive forms of intervention available. It was at the heart of every development organisation's prescription for development.
He pointed to the success of population management in China, Iran, the
Indian state of Kerala and Thailand. If China's one-child policy had averted 400 million births, even with the country's low level of per capita emissions that amounted to some 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide that had not been put into the atmosphere.
“That explains why Chinese politicians get a bit shirty when Western
politicians claim China hasn't done enough,” he noted.
* Porritt's blog on population