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.

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.

Key Dynamics

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

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 never be encouraged. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Slider Settings

The UN’s population scenarios are the basis for the population trajectories in En-ROADS. This input is indexed across the UN’s scenarios, where 1 is the UN’s low growth scenario, 2 is medium, and 3 is high. The slider is limited to a range of 1.3-2.5 to reflect the 95% probability range of population deviating from the medium growth path.

low growth status quo high growth
UN Scenario 1.3 to 2 2 to 2.4 2.4 to 2.5
Population by 2100 8.4 to 10.9 billion 10.9 to 12.8 billion 12.8 to 13.2 billion