Help the cli­mate by hav­ing fewer kids


Hav­ing one less child is the most ef­fec­tive way to com­bat cli­mate change ac­cord­ing to a new study, but the Gov­ern­ment won’t be ad­vo­cat­ing for it.

An in­ter­na­tional study pub­lished in July rec­om­mends hav­ing one less child, liv­ing car free, avoid­ing air­plane travel and eat­ing a plant based diet as the best ways to help com­bat cli­mate change.

The re­port, called the cli­mate mit­i­ga­tion gap: ed­u­ca­tion and gov­ern­ment rec­om­men­da­tions miss the most ef­fec­tive in­di­vid­ual ac­tions made rec­om­men­da­tions for what gov­ern­ments in Europe, the United States, Canada and Aus­tralia could do to mit­i­gate cli­mate change.

For de­vel­oped coun­tries hav­ing one less child re­duced car­bon emis­sions by the equiv­a­lent of 58.6 tonnes per year. Liv­ing car free saved 2.4 tonnes per year, avoid­ing air­plane travel equalled sav­ing 1.6 tonnes per year and eat­ing a plant-based diet would save a lit­tle un­der 1 tonne per year, the re­port said.

Rather than pro­mot­ing ef­fec­tive emis­sion-re­duc­tion strate­gies these gov­ern­ments fo­cused on in­cre­men­tal changes like chang­ing light­bulbs and re­cy­cling, the re­port said.

Vic­to­ria Univer­sity cli­mate ex­pert James Ren­wick said while the study didn’t feature New Zealand, it was ap­pli­ca­ble be­cause pop­u­la­tion growth was the big­gest driver of re­source use and car­bon diox­ide emis­sions glob­ally.

‘‘But [it’s] not an easy topic to bring up in po­lite com­pany,’’ Ren­wick said.

‘‘I doubt the New Zealand gov­ern­ment would ever dare to sug­gest peo­ple should have less chil­dren.’’

A spokesper­son for the Min­istry for En­vi­ron­ment said it wouldn’t be telling peo­ple to have fewer chil­dren to save the en­vi­ron­ment.

It would also not ad­vise peo­ple to eat less meat, or to stop us­ing their cars, the spokesper­son said.

On so­cial me­dia site Neigh­ peo­ple were split over whether hav­ing fewer chil­dren was some­thing New Zealan­ders should con­sider.

Pan­mure res­i­dent Lara Whit­ing said it was an in­ter­est­ing idea, but get­ting peo­ple to stop us­ing plas­tic bags was dif­fi­cult enough.

One Tree Hill res­i­dent Bita Farah­bod and Royal Oak res­i­dent Carly Sch­wer both said pop­u­la­tion growth needed to be ad­dressed.

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