Can Working Less Save the Planet?

Workers with less free time are more likely to use private vehicles instead of public transport, buy energy-intensive, time-saving products and choose convenience foods over sourcing local produce. MCCAIG / Getty Images By Ruby Russell Since the pandemic hit, how we work has changed. Some of us have had a double load, doing day jobs alongside full-time childcare. Others have found hours we once filled with urgent deadlines suddenly empty. And then there are those of us for whom going to work every day — stacking shelves, emptying bins, caring for the sick — became not just a job but an act of heroism , applauded by society from balconies and doorsteps. Philipp Frey of the German Center for Emancipatory Technology Studies says there are lessons to be learned from all this, for the good of both people and planet. Last year, he authored a headline-grabbing study suggesting that to prevent climate collapse, Europeans should go down to a nine-hour working week. "There exists a strong positive correlation between carbon emissions and working hours," Frey said. "Most of us produce less carbon emissions on the weekends than on a normal workday." This isn’t only true of workers in carbon-heavy […]

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