Ground-breaking carbon offset project will put population on the Copenhagen agenda

December 9, 2009 • Daily Email Recap

Many thanks to Roger Martin, Chair of the Optimum Population Trust, for the attached statement by OPT on population as a factor in climate change. Also see the following press release from OPT.
OPT Statement on Climate Change


Research from the Optimum Population Trust estimates that every £4 spent on providing unmet demand for family planning saves one tonne of CO2.

A similar reduction would require an £8 investment in tree planting, £15 in wind power, £31 in solar energy and £56 in hybrid vehicle technology.

Offset your carbon footprint at:

NEWS RELEASE: 03 December, 2009

Ground-breaking carbon offset project will put population on the Copenhagen agenda Family planning is eight times cheaper as a way of tackling global warming than solar power and four times less costly than wind power, according to the sponsors of a radical new carbon offset initiative.

UK-based charity, the Optimum Population Trust (OPT), says its research reflects the conclusions of the recently published UN Population Fund Report, and will give added impetus to calls for the population issue to be to the fore of the global environmental debate ahead of next week’s climate summit in Copenhagen.
OPT is launching the ‘PopOffsets’ project which has the backing of the charity’s influential Patrons including naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, Jonathon Porritt, Professor Paul Ehrlich, Professor John Guillebaud, Susan Hampshire, Professor Aubrey Manning, Sara Parkin, Professor Chris Rapley, and Sir Crispin Tickell.

The project has a dedicated website,, enabling people to offset their carbon footprint by making on-line donations to OPT to support the huge need for family planning around the world.
The impetus for the project was a major OPT research project showing that meeting the otherwise unmet demand for family planning could be the most cost effective means of achieving CO2 reductions.
OPT estimates every £4 spent on family planning saves one tonne of CO2. A similar reduction would require an £8 investment in tree planting, £15 in wind power, £31 in solar energy and £56 in hybrid vehicle technology.

The same broad conclusions have now been given authoritative endorsement by the UN Population Fund report.

OPT Director Roger Martin said: “It has been acknowledged for many years the current level of human population growth is unsustainable and places acute pressure on global resources. Human activity is exacerbating global warming, and higher population levels inevitably mean higher emissions and more climate change victims.”

“PopOffsets is an original and radical initiative that understands this connection and offers a practical and sensible response. For the first time ever, individuals, companies and organisations will have the opportunity to offset their carbon emissions by supporting projects to provide family planning services where there is currently unmet demand.”

The project’s sponsors have made it clear they are opposed to any initiatives that advocate any form of coercion, with all potential projects subject to a rigorous checking process as a pre-condition for financial support.

The PopOffsets launch is being timed to highlight the CO2 / population link ahead of the Copenhagen climate change summit which starts next week.

The launch campaign includes a targeted mailing graphically illustrating the core PopOffset message to UK government ministers and politicians, policy makers and key influencers.

OPT Patron, Professor John Guillebaud said: “Politicians have evaded the population dimension to global warming and now it’s vitally important Copenhagen recognises this crucially important issue. The PopOffsets initiative is evidence this can be done in a sensible, mature, practical and compassionate way, by empowering people to make sustainable choices.

[1] The report Fewer Emitters, Lower Emissions, Less Cost: reducing carbon emissions by investing in family planning was commissioned by OPT in cooperation with LSE from MSc student Thomas Wire in July 2009. See:
[2] The United Nations Population Fund report Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate was published in November 2009. See

Let’s face the Facts of Life…
Without action world population could hit 9 billion by 2050. Currently it’s 6.8 billion.
OPT warns the earth may not be able to support half of the present population by 2099.

Population levels are rising at a level equal to the creation of a new city of 1.5m people EVERY week.
A YouGov poll in 2009 shows 51% think 60m is the ideal population size for the UK.

OPT believes the UK’s long-term sustainable population needs to be 30m. The last time the UK had a population of 30m was in 1899.

First warnings about population were in a Royal Commission report 60 years ago when the UK population passed the 40million mark.

UK population is projected to pass 70 million in 2029 and reach 77 million in 2050.
An estimated 80m conceptions a year are unwanted pregnancies.

OPT’s patrons include naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, actress Susan Hampshire and environmental campaigners Jonathon Porritt and Sara Parkin.

For more information visit our FAQ’s page:

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