Will a larger population affect climate change

Who or what is causing climate change?

    • Top left picture: iStock.com/titoslack
    • Top right picture: iStock.com/Mac99
    Too much carbon dioxide emissions
    Deforestation damages the climate

The main cause of climate change are people, especially in industrialized countries. Factories, cars, airplanes, the lighting of houses and cities - all of this requires energy in the form of electricity, gas or petrol. And where electricity is generated from coal or gasoline and gas are burned, the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is produced. That is released into the atmosphere. This process is called emission.

The large amount of energy used around the world is the main cause of carbon dioxide emissions. Not all industrialized countries produce the same amount of carbon dioxide per inhabitant, but many industrialized countries try to reduce their emissions. Germany is committed to climate protection. Like many other countries, it signed the international Paris Agreement, thereby undertaking to take action against further global warming. On average, every citizen in Germany causes annual carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions of around 9.6 tons. That is almost twice as high as the international average of 4.9 tons per capita. In the US it's around 16 tons per capita.

Problem for the climate: When small states become big

In many countries the industry is not yet as developed as that of the rich industrial countries. These emerging countries are only just on the way to becoming industrialized countries. So far, fewer greenhouse gases have been released there per inhabitant. India and China are among the emerging countries. On average, every citizen in India causes an annual emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases of less than 2 tons and in China of 7.6 tons.

The situation in China is exemplary for many emerging countries: Although emissions per capita are still below those in most industrialized countries, emissions from China are already very high overall. Because almost 1.4 billion people live in China. As a result, over 12 billion tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are emitted there every year - that is almost a quarter of the total greenhouse gas emissions worldwide!

It is all the more important that not only the industrialized countries, but also the emerging countries, convert their economies in such a way that they reduce greenhouse gas emissions or do not even release them in the first place. The Federal Environment Ministry supports climate protection measures in developing and emerging countries and promotes the construction of modern solar power plants there, for example.

The cutting down of forest areas, especially for new agricultural land, also contributes to climate change. Every single tree can absorb the climate-damaging gas carbon dioxide through the leaves and store it as carbon in its wood trunk, branches and roots for a long time and thus withdraw it from the atmosphere for a long period of time. Forests are - with the oceans and soils - our huge “green” carbon dioxide stores and therefore very important for the climate on our planet. When they go away, more dangerous greenhouse gas remains in the atmosphere. And makes it warmer and warmer on earth.

But why are huge areas of forest being cleared? First and foremost, the forests have to give way to large agricultural factories, especially for soy and palm oil, but also for livestock. Wood, too, especially from tropical regions, is often plundered from the forests through overexploitation. A few people earn a lot of money with it. Also with the deforested areas, which are used not only as agricultural land but also as building land or for plantations. People who cut forests have their short-term monetary gain in view, but not the dire consequences for the climate and thus for everyone on our planet.

But every single person can also contribute something to climate protection in everyday life.
"You can do that"

World Climate Conference in Paris

Everything revolves around the topics of climate and climate change at the 21st World Climate Conference. It will take place from November 30th to December 11th, 2015 in Paris, the capital of France. Government representatives from all over the world meet there to decide on a new treaty to protect the climate. Do you also want to do something about climate change? No problem, we'll show you how!

read more

What kind of a climate thing is that?

Everyone is talking about it - but what is it actually, this climate? And where is it in? For its campaign "Together it's climate protection", the Federal Environment Ministry asked primary school students to explain terms relating to the environment and climate. Here is the result - in our short climate quiz videos on YouTube.

read more

School booklet on climate change

In the workbook for the primary school, a polar bear family accompanies the pupils in their search for clues about climate and climate change. How is climate created? What are the consequences of climate change? What can a climate-friendly school look like? This complex topic is made easy to understand with word problems and small experiments.

read more
Jump to the top of the page Jump to the content of the page