NEW YORK — The United Nations Population Fund links climate change and population control in its recent “State of World Population 2009” report.

Richard Kollodge, the report’s editor, said the Population Fund has shifted from abstract, technological theories to “the human dimensions” of climate change.

Policy-makers and the media have largely ignored the impact of climate change on women, Kollodge said in an e-mail to the Register. Women make up a larger share of the agricultural workforce in developing nations, and as a result, the report says, “the close connection between gender, farming and climate change deserves far more analysis than it currently receives.”

Under the appearance of concern for these women’s issues, the report emphasizes that “universal access to reproductive health, in combination with improved education of girls and gender equality, would help achieve health and development objectives while also contributing to declines in fertility, which would in turn help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in the long run.”

“Critics see the report as a thinly veiled attempt to harness popular environmental concerns in service of population control,” Piero Tozzi of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute said in a statement. The institute, which monitors social-policy debate at the United Nations, did not respond to requests for an interview.

“The U.N. is happy to seize on any new rationale to solicit funding for its programs. They have jumped on the global-warming bandwagon,” said Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, in an interview. This month, the U.N. Population Fund called for more than $200 billion for “sexual and reproductive health and family planning,” according to Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute reports.

In linking climate change to population, the report labels avoided children as “emissions savings.”

“Each birth results not only in the emissions attributable to that person in his or her lifetime, but also the emissions of all his or her descendents,” the report says. “Hence, the emissions savings from intended or planned births multiply with time.”

Speaking of the human person solely in terms of a “carbon footprint” devalues him or her.

According to the Catechism, “Endowed with ‘a spiritual and immortal’ soul, the human person is ‘the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake.’ From his conception, he is destined for eternal beatitude” (No. 1703).

“Individuals and couples have a basic human right to decide for themselves how many children to have and when to have them,” Kollodge said, adding that the Population Fund’s official definition of reproductive health includes contraception but not abortion.


Large Families ‘Greener?’

But according to the Population Research Institute, the U.N. Population Fund has been complicit in coercive population-control programs in China since 1979. In the late 1990s, it was involved in a sterilization campaign in Peru that succeeded in making 300,000 women barren, bringing in Chinese experts to help train Peruvian sterilization teams, Mosher said.

Mosher, a social scientist who has conducted field research in China since 1979, witnessed coercive population-control methods firsthand on a visit there in June.

“There are campaigns currently going on in China to arrest and forcibly abort women who are ‘illegally’ pregnant,” he said. “Women are seeking shelter and fleeing from forced abortions.”

China has expanded its so-called “family planning” programs from 40 to nearly 80 counties, and UNFPA has responsibility for these programs, Mosher said.

“UNFPA says there are no forced abortions, no quotas, and women are free to choose the timing of births. Those claims are false. UNFPA is actually complicit in a cover-up of abuses in China,” he said.

The U.S. Kemp-Kasten Amendment prohibits federal funding for coercive population-control programs. Evidence of U.N. involvement in coercive Chinese programs resulted in President George W. Bush suspending U.S. funding from 2002 until 2008. Under President Obama, the funding ban ended “without any concern for the evidence of UNFPA’s ongoing involvement in one-child policy enforcement,” Mosher said.

Kollodge denied any U.N. Population Fund support of coercive population-control measures: “UNFPA supports voluntary family planning to help individuals exercise their basic right to decide for themselves the number and spacing of their children, free from coercion or discrimination.”

The Population Fund report acknowledged that a smaller household may leave a larger carbon footprint than a larger family. Certainly that is true in the economically struggling United States, where the average household of less than two children emits 76 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (19 tons per person) each year (not including transportation).

Meanwhile, a family of six in India, where the economy has been growing 7% a year, might emit 6 metric tons (1.1 tons per person) per year, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

Children in areas of the world targeted by the Population Fund’s population-control policies do not use much in the way of fuel, food and resources, Mosher said. “The U.N.’s agenda is focused on blaming poor, marginalized people for climate change. The whole thing is misguided.”

Janneke Pieters writes from Asheville, North Carolina.