Population, wellbeing, and climate change mitigation

A study examines the association between climate mitigation decisions and the number of individuals predicted to be affected by climate change in the future. Little is known about the relationship between population growth and the value of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Noah Scovronick and colleagues used a climate-economic model to study the links between population growth, population ethics, and climate policy. The model suggests that the social cost of carbon dioxide--a measure of the cost of climate change--increases with population growth, increasing more rapidly if humanity's goal is to maximize the total stock of wellbeing--as reflected by happiness, health, and wealth--within a population as opposed to the average level of people's wellbeing. The model indicates that substantial savings in climate mitigation costs can occur annually if society achieves minimal population growth as opposed to intermediate population growth. However, decisions regarding population and climate policy are likely to depend on the ethical approach to valuing population that is adopted, according to the authors.

Article #16-18308: "Impact of population growth and population ethics on climate change mitigation policy," by Noah Scovronick et al.