Business, Economics and Jobs

How to prevent climate change: work ‘European’ hours


Environmental activists dressed up as CO2 molecules stage a protest in Berlin on December 12, 2009, to coincide with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Some believe that the new research, "offers a response to those skeptical about human-caused global warming." It explains that during the ice age 11,000 years ago, rises in CO2 levels followed warming, and not the other way around.


David Gannon

A study released this week from the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR), a liberal think tank based in Washington, DC, suggests a new way for Americans to slow down global warming: work fewer hours.

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Economist David Rosnick, the study author, calculates that if Americans reduced their hours by 0.5 percent each year — that’s about 10 hours a year or 12 minutes a week for people who work a 40-hour week — the expected temperature rise by 2100 could be cut by 25 to 50 percent.

Over the next century, working fewer hours would prevent a 1.3 degree Celsius temperature increase, Rosnick’s analysis indicates, according to US News & World Report.

"If the world were to follow a more European model of work, we would expect fewer hours, less output and lower emissions of greenhouse gases,” Rosnick writes, according to US News & World Report.

With shorter work weeks and more vacation time, Western Europeans work about 50 percent fewer hours than Americans, CEPR said.

The study doesn’t contemplate how more telecommuting could affect carbon emissions, according to US News & World Report. Rosnick also notes that it’s possible at least some of the carbon-reducing benefits of working less could be offset if workers traveled more during their increased leisure time.

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