Aussies having less kids can help save the planet, expert advises

Aussies can help "slow down climate change" by having fewer children which "does more for [the planet] than any other action," according to a recent report.

Leading environmental scientist Professor Ian Lowe warns continuing population growth in Australia, combined with climate change, will make us vulnerable to food, water and energy scarcity in the future, and urges people to act now.

In a rich country like Australia, having one less child could save more than 20 times as much greenhouse gases as living without a car, or about 70 times as much as switching to a meat-free diet, according to the report by Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).

Coal Fired Power Station and mother walking with children
The single act of choosing not to have a child could spread the avoided emissions over many decades and help save our planet. Source: Getty

So the single act of choosing not to have a child could spread the avoided emissions over many decades and help save our future planet.

"The link between population and climate change is often overlooked or misunderstood," SPA president Ms Jenny Goldie said.

"Many people have argued that linking population to climate change merely deflects attention from the high-emissions behaviours of affluent people."

Why more children impacts climate change

Professor Peter Singer, a Princeton University Professor of Bioethics, recently told Yahoo News Australia that the issue is "complicated."

He said unless the world drastically changes, our children will consume fossil fuels, possibly eat meat and have a significant impact on the environment, particularly those born in affluent countries.

“That is a reason for saying 'I won’t have children', or maybe 'I’ll limit the number of children that I have to replicability levels',” Professor Singer told Yahoo News.

“I would not encourage people to avoid having children altogether, I might encourage them to avoid having large families."

The professor added: "I do think people who think about the future should be thinking about… who is going to inherit the Earth after us, and will they also look after it?”

What contributes to population growth?

The SPA report said annual greenhouse gas emissions from energy use had increased by 49 per cent since 1990, due entirely to population growth, and part of the issue is immigration.

The most recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the nation's population was just over 25.7 million as of June 30, 2021.

"Some people argue that it makes no difference globally," Professor Lowe said.

"This is untrue; the average migrant to Australia increases their carbon footprint fourfold by adopting Australian lifestyles."

Another issue is that family planning services are "severely underfunded and under-promoted", leaving many women "without the means to avoid pregnancies they don’t want".

Providing these services, empowering women and promoting small families would have "multiple benefits for communities coping with climate change" and could help develop, the environment and climate adaptation, the experts say.

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.