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Is the German government encouraging its citizens not to have children in order to save the planet?

FILE - Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008 file photo, a baby cries in its bed in a hospital in Bremen, northern Germany.
FILE - Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008 file photo, a baby cries in its bed in a hospital in Bremen, northern Germany. Copyright Joerg Sarbach/Copyright 2017 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Joerg Sarbach/Copyright 2017 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Sophia Khatsenkova
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Some social media users shared what they believe was a government campaign poster in the metro aimed at curbing the country’s population. However, it turned out to be a poster for a 2020 documentary.

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According to certain X users, formerly known as Twitter, the German government has found a shocking way to save the environment: by asking people to stop having children. 

"State-funded anti-family ad in Germany says: 'Future or climate killer?' The German government has spent billions of euros over decades to discourage native Germans from procreating," posted one account. 

"A shameful attack on family and human life," said another account based in Kazakhstan.

The photo of the poster has been shared thousands of times in different languages, especially in Spanish and French. 

The slogan of the advertisement reads: "The future or climate killers?" referring to the children in the poster. 

However, it's not a government campaign. It's actually an advertisement for a documentary called 'No Children for the Sake of the Climate.' 

It was shown on Arte, a Franco-German TV channel, and the poster was published back in 2019.

The Cube found a promotional video of the documentary on Facebook, with the same woman and children as seen in the viral post. The film is part of a wider series on Arte called Reports from Europe

This episode follows the lives of two British couples who have decided not to have children in order to reduce their carbon footprint – an act also known as birth striking.

According to the movement's official website, its members are "choosing to forgo having children to protect them from worsening social, economic and environmental conditions."

The website explains: "You can protect children while fighting climate change and systematic corruption by refusing to procreate!"

Has the German government recently encouraged people to stop having babies?

On the FAQ page on how to reduce one’s carbon footprint on the government website, there is no mention of diminishing the number of children.

According to an investigation by the European Data Journalism Network, fertility rates in the EU are plummeting, with a few exceptions.

Those are Germany and Hungary, which have managed to resist the large decrease.

The countries with the lowest fertility rates in the EU are Italy, Spain and Malta.

In May, Pope Francis and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni shared their concerns over the country's diminishing birth rate and even urged Italians to have more children.

Will having fewer kids actually help save the planet?

In reality, many climate and demographic experts are not convinced by the idea of reducing the amount of children in the world in order to save the environment.

According to Climate Science, a non-profit organisation, "having fewer children does reduce your carbon emissions, but some countries may face significant problems if their populations continue to age and shrink."

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They recommend policy changes that lower lifetime emissions and make lifestyle changes that are more sustainable. 

French Engineer and author Emmanuel Pont analysed the possibility of demographic decline to fight global warming and also came to the conclusion that curbing the birth rate is not a logical solution. 

He told the French newspaper 20 Minutes, that the estimates of the carbon footprint having a child entails is "a calculation that makes no sense and is based on the very hypothetical future emissions of this child and all his descendants."

"A child's emissions are much more complex and will depend on the way in which he will live."

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