Rich countries must cut their own emissions

The UK based Optimum Population Trust has launched a plan to cut CO2 through a scheme that would see consumers in rich countries paying for family planning in developing countries. You can find our response here.

We support a reasoned debate about the effects of population growth on the global environment. We fully support the right of all women to have control over their reproductive choices. However , the idea of paying for birth control in developing nations to offset carbon-intensive lifestyles in rich ones is nothing less than repugnant. Rich nations have caused most of the climate change we are currently experiencing, and our reluctance to cut our own emissions is pushing the planet to the brink of dangerous climate change.

The problem lies primarily with high consumer lifestyles in the rich world - not with growing populations in poorer countries. And hence the critical challenge in avoiding dangerous climate change will be how to reduce the massive over-consumption of resources by people in the rich world while the supporting sustainable development in the Global South. We have a legal and moral responsibility to take the lead on tackling climate change because of our huge carbon debt to the rest of the planet. 'Offsetting' overseas while continuing high consumption lifestyles here is both hypocritical and counter-productive, as it provides no incentive to the large emerging economies like India and China to accept binding emissions reductions targets in the climate change negotiations.