Gender differences in consumption lead to men on average causing significantly higher greenhouse gas emissions than women on the same budget. This emerges from a new Swedish study – which also shows that both men and women can reduce their emissions to almost half with alternatives that are already on the market.
– We have mapped every penny in the expenditure and translated it into greenhouse gas emissions. The expenses are the basis for everything, says Annika Carlsson Kanyama, researcher at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and consultant at the company Ecoloop.
In this way, together with research colleagues at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg and the Dutch University of Groningen, she has calculated how large the total climate impact is for the average Swede, regardless of where in the world the emissions occur. These are emissions from both the production of goods and services and international air travel.
Private household expenses
The results show that men living in single households have consumption habits that on average lead to 16 per cent greater emissions of greenhouse gases than single women, despite the fact that expenditure differs by only 2 per cent.
– Men spend more of their money on cars and fuel, and there is a lot of emissions per krona. That is the main reason for the difference. Women more often buy things like interior design and health care, which does not give as much emissions per krona, says Annika Carlsson Kanyama.
Since the researchers have studied single households, the difference cannot be due to the fact that it is more common for the man to take the car to work to support the family, Annika Carlsson Kanyama explains. It is also not about more men using the car in their profession, such as craftsmen, because the researchers have only studied private household expenses.
– If you drive a company car and refuel with the company’s credit card, it will not come with it. So that can not be an explanation. It is more likely that it is about a kind of stereotypical gender roles, which have clear climate effects, says Annika Carlsson Kanyama.
Options that already exist
According to the study, for both men and women, it is possible to reduce climate emissions by almost 40 percent by changing consumption habits in three areas: food, holidays and interior design. In simple terms, these are well-known measures, such as exchanging meat for herbal alternatives, shopping second-hand and repairing instead of buying new, and cutting back on long-distance holiday trips and then choosing trains instead of cars and flights.
– It is a significant reduction, and the interesting thing is that it can happen here and now, because in the study we have only looked at alternatives that are already on the market. Unlike investments in solar cells and electric cars, no loans and no waiting time are required. And that is important, because it is in a hurry, says Annika Carlsson Kanyama.
Changes all the time
Have you made any assessment of how the national economy would be affected?
– We have assumed that the expenses are unchanged, that you just move your hand on the shelf, so to speak. So it would not affect tax revenue in the same way as scenarios with reduced spending. But it is clear that there will be changes. Some companies will benefit, others will be disadvantaged, says Kanyama.
– Adjustments and changes are something that society undergoes all the time, for many different reasons. In the 60’s we had a textile industry in Sweden, today almost all clothes are imported from Asia. It is a huge change that has taken place in a fairly short time. Now there is a strong reason to change because we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions, she adds.
Is it right to place this responsibility on consumers?
– I agree that the responsibility should primarily lie with producers and politicians, and different forms of instruments are required. But now it is so urgent that we can not argue about who should do what. Everyone probably has to do their part. These are changes that can be implemented here and now, which have a very large effect if it is done on a large scale, says Annika Carlsson Kanyama.
Facts: Study on consumption emissions
The new study is scientifically reviewed and accepted for publication in the Journal of Industrial Ecology.
Researchers have calculated the total greenhouse gas emissions per person that can be linked to private consumption, regardless of where in the world the emissions occur.
The analysis comprises three groups:
- Single man: 10,022 kg carbon dioxide equivalents per year
- Single woman: 8,411 kg carbon dioxide equivalents per year
- Average person (including children): 4 327 carbon dioxide equivalents per year
The expenses associated with food, holidays and furnishings make up about 60 percent of the total expenses.
By switching to other goods and services in these three areas, according to the study, it is possible to reduce climate emissions by an average of 37 percent (36 percent for men and 38 percent for women).
Källa: “Shifting expenditure on food, holidays and furnishings could lower greenhouse gas emissions by almost 40%”, Journal of Industrial Ecology
Source: Nyteknik – Senaste nytt by www.nyteknik.se.
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