A meeting organised by The Aspen Institute in Washington proposed using the issue of climate change to promote population control. Prominent among those taking part was former Irish President Mary Robinson. The meeting was held in advance of negotiations at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Summit in June 2012. It brought together campaigners on the climate change issue and international abortion and population control advocates.
“Rio+20 presents an opportunity for leaders to make courageous decisions now to ensure that our children and grandchildren inherit a livable world. The environmental and reproductive health activists must move forward together and create a more just future for all,” said Robinson, who is also president of the Mary Robinson Foundation—Climate Justice.
The roundtable, “The Road to Rio: Climate Change, Population and Sustainability,” was part of the 7 Billion: Conversations that Matter roundtable series. Robinson and her fellow panelists were present in ’92 at Rio and in ’94 at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. They included Rachel Kyte, The World Bank’s Vice President of Sustainable Development; Robert Engelman, President of Worldwatch Institute; and Carmen Barroso, Regional Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region. The discussion was moderated by Peggy Clark, of the Aspen Institute.
Robinson, who also chairs the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, said, “Global leaders must recognise the role of women as agents of change in their homes, communities and countries, and their intimate understanding of the inter-generational aspects of climate change.”
Barroso talked about how her native country, Brazil, poured resources and expertise into “family planning” projects. “We’ve always known that there are millions of women—especially the young women—who want to delay or avoid their next pregnancy but do not have access to family planning information and services,” she claimed. She said that slowing population growth could reduce carbon emissions by 16-29 per cent of the emission reductions “necessary to avoid dangerous climate change”.
Robert Engelman also spoke approvingly of measures to “slow and eventually end the world’s population growth much faster than demographers now anticipate”. “Research suggests the savings in greenhouse gas emissions could be similar in 2050 to those achieved by stopping all deforestation by then,” he said, “but the environmental benefits of a stable population are multiple and will keep compounding over time.”
The Aspen Institute. January 12.
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