imgPopIcon Population Growth

Assume higher or lower population growth. Population is a key driver of increased greenhouse gases; however, this is also tied heavily to consumption habits. Women’s education and access to family planning could accelerate shifts to smaller families worldwide.


  • Different assumptions for future fertility rates and demographics.
  • Greater empowerment of women and girls, resulting in lower fertility rates.
  • Increased education on and access to reproductive health services.

Slider Settings

This input is indexed, where 1 is the UN’s low growth scenario, 2 is medium, and 3 is high. The slider is limited to a range of 1.6-2.4 to reflect the 95% probability range of population deviating from the medium growth path.

low growth status quo high growth
UN Scenario 1.6 to 2 2 to 2.3 2.3 to 2.4
Population by 2100 9.6 billion 11.1 billion 13.3 billion

Key Dynamics

  • Watch all the sources of energy change as you change population growth.

Big Message

  • Contrary to some people’s beliefs, population growth is not a silver bullet for addressing climate change.
  • Decisions around population and family choice are very personal decisions and efforts to shift these decisions have ethical implications in many cultures.

Model Structure

Population gets multiplied with economic growth (GDP per capita) to equal total global GDP, or Gross World Product.

Potential Co-Benefits of Lower Growth

  • Lower population growth reduces global consumption of resources.
  • Ensuring safe access to family planning, reproductive health services, and women’s education enhances quality of life and income for women.

Equity Considerations

  • Policies around population should be voluntary and empower women to make the choices that are best for them.
  • A higher percentage of women of color live in countries with severe gender inequities in access to education, full economic and political participation, and adequate family planning. Reducing population growth necessitates a large investment in that particular group.
  • There is a history of women of color in both high- and low-income countries being forcibly sterilized to prevent giving birth, this should not be encouraged.