How can we address the demographics of climate change?

On Tuesday I wrote about how our changing demographics could reduce our per person carbon emissions by 20% by 2060 but our increasing population will wipe out the per person benefits creating a two fold increase in carbon emissions if we do nothing. But this demographic analysis of carbon emissions highlights an interesting fact – the greatest emitters in 2061 will be the 55-65 year olds. So what can we do with this knowledge?

aus emissions

Teach them now? 

The 55-65 year olds in 2061 are currently between 0 and 15 years old. So the guys that will be the future largest polluting demographic are currently in school or close to it. Luckily our kids are being taught more about the environment, more about resource use, more about waste and more about global social issues than we were taught when we were at school. Now imagine how are school kids will be behaving when they are 55-65, imagine how different we would be if we were taught the things they are being taught at the moment. Will they be living like the typical current 55-65 year olds live?

We have a great opportunity to change the future through our kids.

Aging in place?

Aging in place is probably one of the most important things to do for our again population. When we age in place we consume less resources to build more dwellings or furnish larger houses. Aging in place can be as simple as dual quay apartments or dual entry houses that can be used when the family grows as well as when the family shrinks or when a carer is needed. Aging in place could keep better control of our housing prices, reducing the booms and busts that demographics can create – just look at Japan.

We have a great opportunity to change the future through changing our built environment.

Later retirement age? 

With an aging population and less young people to support the elderly it’s likely that we will end up needing to work later in life. If we do this are we likely to spend more and if we do then we are likely pollute more. We should understand this, work with this and put in place measures to make sure that if we do work later in life then we do so with less impact.

We have a challenge ahead of us in how we reduce spending while working later in life.

Planetary limits? 

And there is of course the planetary limits of our one finite planet. So there will of course be limits on all demographic ages but should we have different limits for different ages? Should we be allowed to consume more resources in our growth mode (having families) and pay that back through reducing our allowances as we get older? Or should we have a lifetime resource budget that we chose to spend at whatever point we want in our life?

Which ever way we tackle it, we need to do a lot more than we are now.

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