Why Not Climate Meet in Egypt Discuss Population Control?

One should not ignore the fact that the higher demand for fossil fuel and energy sources is happening due to the steady growth in the world population.

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COP 27 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt [Photo: Special Arrangement]

The Glasgow Climate Meet   (COP 26) took place in 2021 with much fanfare with leaders of almost all countries pledging to reduce and eliminate global emissions as early as possible, to prevent global warming and prevent a climate crisis.  The Glasgow Meet ended with high hope that the world climate crisis would be overcome sooner or later and hopefully sooner than later.

Now, Egypt Climate Meet (COP 27) is in progress with the concerns about global climate being not less than what was there at Glasgow Climate Meet.  The ground reality is that practically nothing has been done in a significant way to improve the global climate scenario  in the last year and on the other hand, it has only further deteriorated  due to various man-made reasons and conflicts

The world is already feeling the global climate crisis, as global warming continues to take place with unpredictable climate changes and monsoon conditions. There is huge anxiety in the world today, as no one is able to predict the monsoon conditions and heat levels in the different months with any reasonable level of accuracy. 

 The situation is so desperate now that U N Secretary General at the COP 27 summit in Egypt said that the planet is fast approaching tipping points and the climate crisis is approaching an irreversible level.  He went on to say with a sense of helplessness that the world is facing a stark choice and all countries now have to work together and he 1declared that the world has to choose between   ” survive or perish”  conditions.

So far, globally, the highlight of the discussion on the climate crisis is that the use of fossil fuels like crude oil, and coal should be drastically reduced and completely eliminated in the course of time.  Further, the goal should be to replace fossil fuels like coal, and crude oil for use as energy sources or as feedstock with eco-friendly sources such as renewable energy  ( wind and solar) use of hydrogen and so on.  While scientists are feverishly working to develop eco-friendly technologies to substitute fossil fuels, it appears that the world still has a long way to go.

In such circumstances, the statement of the UAE President that his country will keep producing fossil fuel as long as there is a market for it in the world is very significant. UAE President has been honest enough to confess that he has no plans to reduce the production of fossil fuel and the ball is clearly in the court of consumers of fossil fuel rather than that of the producers. What is particularly curious is that the next year’s edition of the climate summit is scheduled to be hosted by UAE.

Obviously, the demand reduction for fossil fuels is a sure way of reducing the consumption of fossil fuels in the world which will improve the climate conditions. One way of reducing the consumption of fossil fuel is to develop alternative eco-friendly energy sources, on which development work is underway.

However, one should not ignore the fact that the higher demand for fossil fuel and energy sources is happening due to the steady growth in the world population. With more mouths to feed and more people demanding a greater share of the world’s resources, obviously, the demand for fossil fuel as an energy source cannot come down.

It is surprising that in all the climate meetings that have taken place around the world in the past; no one appears to have spoken about reducing population growth, particularly in developing and underdeveloped countries, to solve the climate issue.  While developed countries like the USA, EU, and Japan are keeping the population under check, in countries like India, population growth still remains high with India likely to emerge as the most populated country in the world soon.

While the developed countries have a nearly stable population, the industries and production centres in developed countries which have high technology strength are producing more and more to meet the increasing demand in developing countries, where demand is growing due to population growth and at the same time economic development.

 In several of the climate meet in the past, steps have been taken to provide financial support and incentives to work towards ozone depletion etc. In the same way, perhaps, it would be appropriate to give some incentives to developing and underdeveloped countries to reduce population growth.

It is high time to recognize that countries with high population growth are also significant contributors to the global climate crisis.

N.S.Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause and to promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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