The Sustainable Australia Party supports the Climate Strike, and our Victorian MP Clifford Hayes and National President William Bourke, as well as other Sustainable Australia Party members, will be attending the Melbourne rally. Sustainable Australia supports the Climate Strike because it agrees with the science that climate change is already a major global problem, and will be a massive one for future generations unless we take more decisive action than we have been taking so far.
We need to take an evidence-based approach to climate change and the appropriate responses to it. As well as transitioning away from fossil fuels, scientists have repeatedly found that limiting population growth could provide immense benefits in curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
For example, a detailed study by Canadian researchers Seth Wynes and Kimberly Nicholas in 2017 found that in developed countries having one fewer child would save an average of 58.6 tonnes CO2 equivalent per year. Doing this would be over 24 times more effective than going car free, over 36 times more effective than avoiding airplane travel, over 70 times more effective than adopting a plant based diet, and over 586 times more effective than changing household lightbulbs!
The journal Global Environmental Change reported back in 2009 that “in the United States, for example, each child adds about 9441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy” of an average person, which is over 5 times their lifetime emissions.
In the Melbourne municipality of Moreland, the good work done by the Moreland Energy Foundation in installing solar panels throughout the municipality has been completely cancelled out by the city’s population growth, with no reduction in emissions over the past decade.
Late in December the Federal Environment Department released information showing that our emissions have actually risen in the last 4 years, and that we are not on track to reach our Paris pledge. Australia will only reduce emissions by 7% by 2030, well short of the Paris pledge of at least 28%. Overall emissions have steadily increased since 2014.
Victoria’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report of 2018shows total net greenhouse gas emissions increased between 1990 and 2016 by 7.8 megatonnes of CO2e – a 7% increase. Victoria’s per capita emissions decreased from 24 to 18.4 t CO2e – or 23 per cent. But total emissions increased in large part due to rapid population growth of 41 per cent in that period. The report explicitly notes that “population growth is an important driver of emissions trends in a number of sectors/sub-sectors”.
Victoria’s rapid population growth – over 100,000 each year – is fatally undermining all the good work being done by Government Departments and agencies, Councils, business, community organisations, families and individuals to reduce our greenhouse emissions.
The Sustainable Australia Party says that this doesn’t mean we should stop having children, but it does mean that, as well as transitioning away from fossil fuels, two is enough, wherever we live. The Federal Government should scrap financial incentives to have more than two children, and climate activists should start focussing on the crucial role population growth plays in undermining our attempts to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.