She said: “We will see smaller populations in high-income countries going forward. It’s just going to be a trend of the 21st century and that will actually be good for general overall overconsumption that we have at the moment and our planet.”
Research has found that wealthy nations tend to have much larger carbon footprints than poorer countries, as rich people can afford to buy more goods, travel more and do other activities that generate emissions.
Carbon emissions from high-income countries were 29 times larger than low-income countries on a per capita basis in 2020, World Bank figures show.
While slowing population growth may reduce carbon emissions, analysts have warned that it also poses significant challenges for economic growth.
A shrinking workforce puts pressure on younger generations to pay more tax for the healthcare of older people. It can also lead to worker shortages that can slow growth.
While the overall number of births in Britain is declining, the share of children born to women from outside of Britain has hit a record high.
Almost one in three children born last year were delivered by mothers born outside of the UK. The number of births by women born outside the UK rose 3,600 year-on-year to account for 30.3pc of all births. The previous peak was 29.3pc in 2020.
When including the father, more than one in three children born last year had at least one foreign-born parent. In London, the figure was two thirds.
The ONS said: “In 2022, India replaced Romania as the most common country of birth for non-UK-born mothers, and Pakistan as the most common country of birth for non-UK-born fathers.”
For the first time since records began in 2003, Afghan women were among the top ten most common nationalities for foreign-born mothers.
It comes after Afghan women were granted humanitarian protection by the UK following the Taliban’s return to power in 2021.
The number of births is separate from Britain’s fertility rate, which measures the ratio of live births to women of childbearing age. This will be published later in the year, as population estimates for mid-2022 are yet to be released.
The fertility rate sank to a record low of 1.58 children per woman during the first year of Covid and recovered slightly to 1.61 in 2021.