But the Woodrow Wilson Institute researchers are quick to point out that they’re not talking about touchy “population control” strategies like forced sterilization (prominently employed and quickly abandoned in India in the 1970s) or China’s one-child policy. Rather, they’re focusing on “voluntary family planning”—emphasis on the “voluntary”—programs that countries are already looking at. Sex education has been linked to reduced fertility rates, as has distribution of contraception.
“Achieving universal access to family planning throughout the world would result in fewer unintended pregnancies, improve the health and well-being of women and their families and slow population growth, all benefits to climate-compatible development,” reads a draft statement from the group, which is crafting a full report to be released at the end of the year.
The connection isn’t necessarily new: Plenty of academics have made it, and Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke has blogged about it in the past. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has noted the burden of “population pressures” on natural resources, while separately looking at the health impact of family planning. Some national climate-adaptation plans around the world have brushed on family planning.