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US envoy raises alarm about ‘unsustainable’ 10 billion global population in 2050

This picture taken on Oct 23, 2022 shows people walking through a market in Bangalore, India. (Photo by AFP)

US climate envoy John Kerry says the world's population is projected to reach 10 billion in 2050, which he described as 'unsustainable', but declined to call on Americans to cut back on meat consumption to help preserve the environment.

The world's population has officially passed eight billion since November, more than triple the figure in 1950, which has already increased the needs and supplies for food and energy.

According to the United Nations estimates, the figure will reach 9.7 billion by the middle of the century.

"I don't think it's sustainable personally," Kerry said in an interview on Tuesday. "We need to figure out how we're going to deal with the issue of sustainability and the numbers of people we're trying to take care of on the planet."

"I'm not recommending the population go down," the 79-year-old added. "I think we have the life we have on the planet. And we have to respect life and we could do it in so many better ways than we're doing now."

Producing food for eight billion people in the world accounts for more than a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, with cattle farming for human consumption being among the reasons behind global warming,  which in turn is responsible for droughts, floods and extreme weather conditions.

In his remarks, Kerry, however, did not ask people to eat less meat to help protect the environment.

"I think that those choices are up to people on their own, what they want to do, how they want to do it," he said.

"What I would recommend is that we change our practices of how we feed livestock and what we feed them and how we use farming," he said, referring to new technologies in farming that reduce the negative impacts to the environment.

New global climate assessment aims to gauge progress

This comes as world leaders convened in Bonn, Germany, on Monday for the start of the final phase of a two-year long review of the progress made to limit rising temperatures.

"The global stocktake is an ambition exercise. It's an accountability exercise. It's an acceleration exercise," UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell said in a statement at the annual Bonn Climate Change Conference.

The annual Bonn Climate Change Conference is part of the "global stocktake", which is a process by which countries around the world to assess how much progress has been made toward compliance with the 2015 Paris Agreement.

"It's an exercise that is intended to make sure every Party is holding up their end of the bargain, knows where they need to go next and how rapidly they need to move to fulfill the goals of the Paris Agreement,” Stiell added.

The landmark 2015 Paris Agreement calls for limiting global temperature rise to "well below" two degrees Celsius and, if possible, 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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