The global population will reach a new milestone of 8 billion on Nov. 15, the United Nations has projected, with the number of people on earth having doubled in less than 50 years.
That figure is expected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050 and peak at about 10.4 billion during the 2080s amid dwindling growth rates, the World Population Prospects report said.
This comes at a crucial time for the planet as climate change and nature loss caused by human activities - from the food that people eat to the fossil fuels burned for energy - are having an increasingly significant impact on life.
“How will we answer when ‘Baby 8 Billion’ is old enough to ask: what did you do for our world and for our planet when you had the chance?” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt on Monday.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned that “unprecedented” action to cut greenhouse gas emissions will be needed to reach global targets of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial temperatures.
Meanwhile, as forests continue to be cleared and oceans polluted, human impacts are destroying nature and biodiversity: wildlife populations have fallen by more than two-thirds since 1970, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
How will we answer when ‘Baby 8 Billion’ is old enough to ask: what did you do for our world and for our planet when you had the chance?
Antonio Guterres, secretary-general, United Nations
As negotiators discuss nature protection at COP27, climate advocates have called for the global economic system to put a price on planet-heating emissions, and to value the services provided by nature - from storing carbon to regulating rainfall.
With the number of people living on the planet only set to soar further in the coming decades, what can be done to make human life more sustainable?
Accelerate renewable energy
Despite the rise in renewable energy technologies such as solar panels and wind farms, most of the energy that people use to power industry, transport and buildings is still polluting.
Fossil fuels account for around 80 per cent of energy production, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), and global demand for energy is surging as the population grows and economies continue to develop.
The IEA says the path to net zero planet-heating emissions by 2050 requires a “massive deployment” of all available clean energy technologies, with investment needing to more than triple by 2030.
Renewable energy technologies have become much cheaper over the past decade.
In 2021, two-thirds of newly installed renewable power had lower costs than the cheapest fossil fuel-fired option in G20 countries, the International Renewable Energy Agency said.
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