Study Reports: Men's Spending Responsible For More Climate-Heating Emissions

According to a new study, men are responsible for 16% more greenhouse gas emissions from the goods they buy than women are, even though they spend a similar amount overall. According to the authors of a new paper, the gender difference in emissions has hardly been studied but should inform our efforts to slash emissions to curb the climate crisis.

The study, published this week in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, analyzed 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.

It found that spending varied the greatest on petrol and diesel for their cars, which 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. Shifting spending on food, holidays, and furnishings to greener alternatives without stumping up the cash could lower greenhouse gas emissions for men and women by almost 40%, found the Swedish analysis finds.

Substitutes that cost much like mainstream food, holidays, and furnishings include:

  • Plant-based meat and dairy alternatives.

  • Locally grown vegetables.

  • Second-hand purchases.

  • Holidaying abroad by train.

  • 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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