Men leave bigger carbon footprint than women, study finds

One person's greenhouse gas emissions could be lowered by 38 per cent without adding to personal spending

Men are responsible for 16 per cent more carbon emissions than women, a study in Sweden has found.

The amount of money spent by either sex is similar, with a difference of only two per cent, but the type of spending, especially on car fuel, leads to men leaving the bigger carbon footprint.

The results, published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, show that one person’s greenhouse gas emissions can be lowered by 36 to 38 per cent if money is spent on less carbon-intensive products.

“The way they spend is very stereotypical – women spend more money on home decoration, health and clothes and men spend more money on fuel for cars, eating out, alcohol and tobacco,” said study leader Annika Carlsson Kanyama, of Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

“We think it’s important to take the difference between men and women into account in policymaking.”

The paper investigated how consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions from private households can be reduced.

For men and women, holidays accounted for about one third of emissions.

The alternatives to cutting the carbon cost of mainstream food supplies include plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products and buying vegetables produced locally.

The carbon cost of holidays abroad could be reduced by staycations and travelling by train, while second-hand shops could help cut the footprint by eliminating the need for new home furnishings, the researchers said.

The KTH team said the suggested changes to diet and holidays to reduce personal emissions were chosen because they did not require additional spending, as buying an electric car might.

“These are substantial changes, of course, but at least you don’t need to get yourself another job, or borrow money from the bank,” Ms Carlsson Kanyama said.

“So it’s something within reach here and now. You just use the same money you have and buy something else.”

Updated: July 21st 2021, 4:37 PM