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Men’s spending responsible for more climate-heating emissions than women’s, study finds

Written by on 21/07/2021

Men are responsible for 16% more greenhouse gases from the goods they buy than women are, even when they spend a similar amount overall, according to a new study.

The gender difference in emissions has so far hardly been studied but should inform our efforts to slash emissions to curb the climate crisis, according to authors of a new paper.

The study, published this week in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, analysed the spending habits of single men and women in Sweden. It found women spent more money on health, home decoration and clothes, while men forked out more for fuel, eating out, alcohol and tobacco.

Spending varied the greatest on petrol and diesel for their cars, it found, and this excluded fuel for work vehicles, while emissions from food did not vary greatly between the two genders.

For both men and women, food and holidays were responsible for more than half their emissions.

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The authors found that single consumers could slash their greenhouse gas emissions by almost 40% without having to stump up cash.

Substitutes that cost much the same as mainstream food, holidays, and furnishings include plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, locally grown vegetables, second-hand purchases, holidaying abroad by train and staycations.

The authors said: “The reduction potentials shown in this study do not require costly investments as is the case for buying an electric car or installing solar panels, which are other options for climate-aware households. Therefore, our examples are easy to comply with from an economic point of view.”

The study suggested further research could explore ways to tailor policies according to gender “in the quest for climate change mitigation”.

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