Thu 10 December Thu 10 December
Policies Policies

Population Decline and Climate Change in the 21st Century: Achieving A 'Depopulation Dividend' in the Asia-Pacific Region

Tohoku University; University of Sheffield


This event will focus on identifying both barriers to and solutions for Japan and the world in terms of tackling climate change and sustaining economic growth by turning the current trend of depopulation into an opportunity and maintain its leading position for Japan in Asia.


Population decline and climate change in the 21st century: Achieving a 'depopulation dividend' in the Asia-Pacific region


In 2008 Japan became the first Asia-Pacific country to experience population decline. It will continue to shrink for at least the next 30 years. In the 2020s and 30s South Korea and China will also start to shrink. Many sub-national regions within growing countries such as New Zealand are also declining, potentially presaging a transition towards national-scale shrinkage. Depopulation is potentially good news for mitigating climate change, but it may also cause other negative outcomes for affected communities.
Under this backdrop, in the side-event, the speakers discussed the following.

  1. How can Japan’s experience be instructive for other Asia-Pacific countries as their populations decline?
  2. Can Japan lead Asia-Pacific countries in achieving a 21st century 'depopulation dividend', whereby the potential for social and environmental gains from population decline can be harnessed for a more sustainable future?
  3. Is there evidence from Japan to suggest that depopulation is helping to achieve the energy transition?
  4. Or does the evidence contradict optimistic assumptions about the relationship between, for example, population growth and shrinkage, and resource consumption?

The speakers concluded that to achieve a depopulation dividend for Japan, it is necessary to strategically tackle the issue with long-term perspective, otherwise depopulation dividend will not be achieves as anticipated. They also acknowledged that more academic researches are needed in this area.

Key Messages

Dividend of population decline in Japan has not yet been validated in terms of greenhouse gas emission reduction. Therefore, there is a need for further studies in this field. At the same time, the Government should implement more aggressive policy intervention, for example, in the field of building sector and housing policy that takes into account the energy saving.



Dr. Peter Matanle, School of East Asian Studies, The University of Sheffield.
Dr. Jusen Asuka, Tohoku University, Japan
Dr. Paul Scalise, IN-EAST School of Advanced Studies, University of Duisburg-Essen
Chair: Matthew Billson, Energy2050, The University of Sheffield.