Friday, 8 February 2013

New study: Less work and longer holidays could reduce global warming by half

The Washington D.C. based think tank Center for Economic and Policy Research has published a report by David Rosnick, called "Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change". Rosnick is of the opinion that holding back consumption by way of reduced working hours " would eliminate about one-quarter to one-half of the global warming": 

"This choice between fewer work hours versus increased consumption has significant implications for the rate of climate change.  A number of studies (e.g. Knight et al. 2012, Rosnick and Weisbrot2006) have found that shorter work hours are associated with lower greenhouse gas emissions and therefore less global climate change. The relationship between these two variables is complex and not clearly understood, but it is understandable that lowering levels of consumption, holding everything else constant, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.This paper estimates the impact on climate change of reducing work hours over the rest of the century by an annual average of 0.5 percent. It finds that such a change in work hours would eliminate about one-quarter to one-half of the global warming that is not already locked in (i.e. warming that would be caused by 1990 levels of greenhouse gas concentrations already in the atmosphere)."

Rosnick recommends a "European response to productivity gains" as a solution:

"a significant reduction in climate change is possible by choosing a  more European response to productivity gains rather than following a model more like that of the United States.  By itself, a combination of shorter workweeks and additional vacation which reduces average annual hours by just  0.5 percent per year would very likely mitigate one-quarter to one-half, if not more, of  any warming which is not yet locked-in."

What Rosnick does not tell us is that choosing "a more European response" also would mean this:

After five years of economic crisis and the return of a recession in 2012, unemployment is hitting new peaks not seen for almost 20 years in the EU. That's according to the 2012 edition of the Employment and Social Developments in Europe review.
Household incomes have also declined and and the risk of poverty or exclusion is on the rise, especially in member states in southern and eastern Europe.
I would not be surprised if Rosnick in a follow up study will come to the conclusion that a return to the stone age would eliminate the other half of human caused global warming. 

1 comment:

Seth S said...

Sounds great less work for all! Actually, this article shows a pretty weak case for global warming, so we might not need to work less.