Home > Ecological economics, Simulation modeling > Work less and slow climate change. Sounds good, isn’t it?

Work less and slow climate change. Sounds good, isn’t it?

A recent paper by the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) explores the question to which extent a reduction in work hours can contribute to slowing climate change.

The author uses a subset of the IPPC’s illustrative scenarios and simulates the impact of a reduction of work hours by assuming that hours worked fall by 0.5% per year in each scenario. He links this reduction in work hours to carbon emissions through the assumption that a 1% increase in hours worked per employee results in a 1.5% increase in carbon footprint.

As a result, between 35 and 70% of not already locked in warming would be avoided. However, this figure would change with alternative assumptions on the link between a reduction and work hours and carbon emissions and with expectations regarding employment effects.

Sure, the modeling approach as well as the assumptions may leave space for critical discussion. However, the piece is a nice and interesting analysis, which fits well into the debate on degrowth. And it can be seen as complementary to another recent article, published by Jørgen Randers in the Guardian: Should paid work be rationed? In that article, Randers also gives some input for answering the inevitable question what would happen to emissions if people with more free time opted to travel or watch TV (which requires electricity) instead:

Shorter working weeks, with more time spent reading and pottering in the garden, would help stabilise the use of planetary resources.

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