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Want to help combat #climatechange? Have one less child.
Climate Climate Natural

Victoria University climate expert James Renwick says the study is applicable in New Zealand because population growth has been the biggest driver of resource use and carbon dioxide emissions globally.
Having one less child is the most effective way to combat climate change according to a new study, but the Government won't be advocating for it. 


An international study published in July recommends having one less child, living car free, avoiding airplane travel and eating a plant based diet as the best ways to help combat climate change. 

The report, called the climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions made recommendations for what governments in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia could do to mitigate climate change.

For developed countries having one less child reduced carbon emissions by the equivalent of 58.6 tonnes per year. Living car free saved 2.4 tonnes per year, avoiding airplane travel equalled saving 1.6 tonnes per year and eating a plant-based diet would save a little under 1 tonne per year, the report said. 

Rather than promoting effective emission-reduction strategies these governments focused on incremental changes like changing lightbulbs and recycling, the report said. 

Victoria University climate expert James Renwick said while the study didn't feature New Zealand, it was applicable because population growth was the biggest driver of resource use and carbon dioxide emissions globally. 

"But [it's] not an easy topic to bring up in polite company," Renwick said.

"I doubt the New Zealand government would ever dare to suggest people should have less children." 

A spokesperson for the Ministry for Environment said it wouldn't be telling people to have fewer children to save the environment. 

It would also not advise people to eat less meat, or to stop using their cars, the spokesperson said. 

However, there was a programme to increase electric vehicle use and the Government was working with farmers to support sustainable practises and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the spokesperson said. 

On social media site people were split over whether having fewer children was something New Zealanders should consider. 

St Heliers resident Heather Adam said it wasn't an issue for New Zealand.

"We are not over-populated. We are barely keeping up with replacement numbers and our entire population is fewer than most cities in the world," Adam said. 

Panmure resident Lara Whiting said it was an interesting idea, but getting people to stop using plastic bags was difficult enough. 

One Tree Hill resident Bita Farahbod and Royal Oak resident Carly Schwer both said population growth needed to be addressed.  

"I firmly believe to save the planet there needs to be strict breeding regulations and plans in place for families, all across the globe," Farahbod said. 

"We must also think about what type of world these children will live in, faced with the already apparent side effects of climate change upon us," Schwer said. 

Glenn Innes resident Rachel Crowther said it was good to spread awareness. 

"However, to dictate how many children people are allowed to have would be disastrous," Crowther said.