Demographic Modeling for Human and Environmental Research

Populations encounter various challenges of environmental and climate change mitigation and adaption.

The Issue

Understanding the interactions between population dynamics, and environmental risk and climate change is key to creating the policies and programs needed to limit the magnitude and rate of environmental degradation and global warming, as well to adapting to changing environmental and climate systems. The complexity of the population-environment-climate change nexus calls for improved demographic projections which are key inputs to the integrated assessment systems that account for multisectoral, multiregional, and multiscale dimensions. The demographic modeling of future populations by socioeconomic characteristics (age, gender, education, rural-urban residence, household structure) and spatial distribution is essential for determining the resilience, vulnerability, and adaptative capacity of societies.

The Progress

PERCC researchers have contributed to the global population, environment, and climate change research communities that have achieved important progress in understanding how population dynamics influence the environment and climate, and how changing environmental and climate systems affect human population. In the past, population size was the only demographic variable used in projecting environmental pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. Today, researchers are modeling the impacts of multidimensional demographic indicators such as growth rates, age, gender, urbanization, education, household structures, and spatial distribution to meet the challenges of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The Impact

PERCC researchers have contributed to developing the socioeconomic scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), and the quantitative projections of demographic variables in the SSPs. These detailed demographic data and modelling tools are considered essential input to IPCC assessment reports, and other global socioeconomic and environmental assessments, most notably the proceedings of the annual global policy setting COP meetings, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Principal Investigator