RCC’s Different Viewpoints is a series of short articles from different age groups and their perspective on health education as they see it.
Written by: Sheila Evans, Robert Crown Center for Health Education Intern
Usually when we think of solutions to Climate Change images of solar power, wind power, and electric cars come to mind. However, one of the best solutions includes very little technology at all, family planning.
You may be asking yourself, “How could family planning help the environment?” and the answer is pretty simple. By providing more accessibility to sex education and reproductive healthcare, more unintended pregnancies can be avoided which lowers the global population and puts less strain on the environment. Family planning policy aims to reduce not the size of carbon footprints but the number of them. After an analysis of different potential climate change policies, family planning is ranked as the seventh-best solution and if implemented could result in 51.48 gigatons reduced CO2 (Hawkin, Paul). Unintended pregnancies aren’t just relegated to developing countries. Looking at the United States, 45% of pregnancies are unplanned (Finer, L.B., and M.R. Zolna).
Now, it is important to note that a successful family planning policy is based around voluntary family planning that addresses an existing need. Policies such as these should be human rights-based and don’t include the natalist policies of governments trying to change the birth rates or telling women in developing countries not to have children.
Family planning as a climate change solution has the advantage of addressing an already existing need in which the participants enthusiastically want the change. There is currently a $5,300,000,000 funding shortfall between the demand for family planning and access (Singh, Susheela, et al.). Family planning policy not only improves the environment but has the added benefits of female empowerment and lowering both maternal and infant mortality globally. The lives of both children and mothers will be better in a world where every pregnancy is wanted and the environment will be better off for it.
Finer, L.B., and M.R. Zolna. “Declines in Unintended Pregnancy in the United States, 2008–2011.” New England Journal of Medicine, 374, no. 9 (2016): 843-852.
Hawkin, Paul. “Family Planning.” Drawdown, Drawdown Project, 17 Jan. 2019, www.drawdown.org/solutions/women-and-girls/family-planning.
Singh, Susheela, et al. “Adding It Up: The Costs and Benefits of Investing in Sexual and Reproductive Health 2014.” Guttmacher Institute, 17 Nov. 2017, www.guttmacher.org/report/adding-it-costs-and-benefits-investing-sexual-and-reproductive-health-2014.