Network Day: Too many people?

24th October 2009

Bethesda Church, Cheltenham

Jonathon Porritt
Geoffrey Clinton-Brown
Martin Whiteside
Panel discussion (incl Martin Horwood)

Over 100 people came to Network Day to hear Jonathon Porritt tell us why the growth in world population has to be taken seriously if we are to tackle not only climate change, but also most of the other threats to future society.

Until recently a taboo subject, people are beginning to recognise how much harder it will be to make the 80% cuts in CO2 required by 2050 if the world's population is 9 billion by then, compared with today's 6 billion. Politicians and churches, even environmental groups like FoE have previously chosen to ignore the issue of rising population, but now they need to face up to it. But stablising and then reducing population doesn't have to mean curtailing people's freedom to have children if they wish; rather it means giving them the freedom to choose how many children to have through better education, family planning services and support, directed particularly at women. In the western world where these facilities are available, populations are generally declining. The people in the majority world need to be given the same rights.

Geoffrey Clinton-Brown (MP for the Cotswolds) outlined the Conservative Party's stance on this issue, saying that he thought it was something that needed to be discussed. A future Conservative Government would maintain help to the developing world to assist its ability to control populations. Martin Whiteside, the Green Party's prospective parliamentary candidate for Stroud, said that both population and consumption need to be tackled to deal with climate change and outlined his own experiences working in Africa.

Martin Horwood (LibDem MP, Cheltenham) joined the panel in time to take wide-ranging questions from the audience.

After lunch, the attendees enjoyed a light-hearted quiz.

Local environmental groups took the opportunity to bring along displays.


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