Human population, social justice, and climate policy

Abstract

We illustrate how human population has been mostly ignored with regard to climate policy by conducting a systematic review of the literature in the context of social justice and six transformative steps for climate change mitigation. Despite this, implementing socially just population policies could make substantial contributions to climate mitigation and adaptation while also promoting social justice and gender equity. We detail how this is possible using a number of policy examples, including increasing the availability of voluntary family planning services and improving education for girls and young women.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  1. Bongaarts J, O’Neill BC (2018) Global warming policy: Is population left out in the cold? Science 361:650–652

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Cassidy ES, West PC, Gerber JS, Foley JA (2013) Redefining agricultural yields: from tonnes to people nourished per hectare. Environ Res Lett 8:034015

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Chen C, Noble I, Hellmann J, et al (2015) University of Notre Dame global adaptation index country index technical report. ND-GAIN: South Bend, IN, USA

  4. Crippa M, Oreggioni G, Guizzardi D et al (2019) Fossil CO2 and GHG emissions of all world countries. Publication Office of the European Union, Luxemburg

    Google Scholar 

  5. Dodson JC, Dérer P, Cafaro P, Götmark F (2020) Population growth and climate change: addressing the overlooked threat multiplier. Sci Total Environ 748:141346

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. FAOSTAT (2020) FAOSTAT Database on Agriculture. In: FAOSTAT Database on Agriculture. http://faostat.fao.org/. Accessed 26 Jun 2020

  7. Goldewijk KK, Beusen A, Doelman J, Stehfest E (2017) Anthropogenic land use estimates for the Holocene–HYDE 3.2. Earth Syst Sci Data 9:927–953

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Gore T (2015) Extreme Carbon Inequality: Why the Paris climate deal must put the poorest, lowest emitting and most vulnerable people first

  9. Graves A, Rosa L, Nouhou AM, et al (2019) Avert catastrophe now in Africa’s Sahel. Nature Publishing Group

  10. Guillebaud J (2016) Voluntary family planning to minimise and mitigate climate change. bmj 353:i2102

  11. Kanemoto K, Moran D, Hertwich EG (2016) Mapping the carbon footprint of nations. Environ Sci Technol 50:10512–10517

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Levy BS, Patz JA (2015) Climate change, human rights, and social justice. Ann Glob Health 81:310–322

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Patel P (2017) Forced sterilization of women as discrimination. Public Health Rev 38:1–12

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Ripple WJ, Wolf C, Newsome TM et al (2020) World scientists’ warning of a climate emergency. Bioscience 70:8–12

    Google Scholar 

  15. Stephenson J, Newman K, Mayhew S (2010) Population dynamics and climate change: what are the links? J Public Health 32:150–156

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. The World Bank (2020) World Development Indicators. https://data.worldbank.org/. Accessed 26 Aug 2019

  17. Wiedmann T, Lenzen M, Keyßer LT, Steinberger JK (2020) Scientists’ warning on affluence. Nat Commun 11:1–10

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Wilkinson K, Crystal Chissell, Jonathan Foley, et al (2020) The Drawdown Review: Climate Solutions for a New Decade. Project Drawdown

  19. Young MH, Mogelgaard K, Hardee K (2009) Projecting population, projecting climate change population in IPCC scenarios. Population (English Edition)

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank John Guillebaud and Jan Greguš for reviewing an early draft of this paper.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Christopher Wolf.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Handled by Alexander Gonzalez Flor, University of the Philippines Open University Faculty of Information and Communication Studies, Philippines.

Supplementary Information

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary file1 (PDF 2059 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wolf, C., Ripple, W.J. & Crist, E. Human population, social justice, and climate policy. Sustain Sci (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-021-00951-w

Download citation

Keywords

  • Climate mitigation
  • Climate adaptation
  • Population policy