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Lancet. 2012 Jul 14;380(9837):157-64. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60958-1. Epub 2012 Jul 10.

Demographic change and carbon dioxide emissions.

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  • 1National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80305, USA. boneill@ucar.edu


Relations between demographic change and emissions of the major greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO(2)) have been studied from different perspectives, but most projections of future emissions only partly take demographic influences into account. We review two types of evidence for how CO(2) emissions from the use of fossil fuels are affected by demographic factors such as population growth or decline, ageing, urbanisation, and changes in household size. First, empirical analyses of historical trends tend to show that CO(2) emissions from energy use respond almost proportionately to changes in population size and that ageing and urbanisation have less than proportional but statistically significant effects. Second, scenario analyses show that alternative population growth paths could have substantial effects on global emissions of CO(2) several decades from now, and that ageing and urbanisation can have important effects in particular world regions. These results imply that policies that slow population growth would probably also have climate-related benefits.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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