SWEDEN: A new study from Sweden is a reminder that gender stereotypes are alive and well harming our planet, as men’s passion for meat and cars is making them bigger contributors to greenhouse gases than women.
The study, carried out by research company Ecoloop and published on Monday in the Journal for Industrial Ecology, was based on how the consumption and expenditure of single men and women living in Sweden differ, on essentials like food, household items, furnishings, holidays and fuel for cars.
It inferred that on average, Swedish men were a 16% higher contributor of greenhouse gases than women, and interestingly men only spend 2% more on goods in total than women do. The research was derived from the most recent data available of 2012 – based on official consumer spending figures.
The study revealed that women were inclined to spend money on healthcare, clothes and furnishings which fall under “low emitting products”, while men spent 70% of their money on “greenhouse gas-intensive items,” including fuel for cars.
Climate change, gender-based
Annika Carlsson-Kanyama, the lead researcher on the study, told CNN that men “could really learn from women’s expenditure habits, which produce significantly less carbon emissions despite the similar amount of spending.”
She said when shaping environmental policy, governments need to factor these gender differences into their decision-making. For instance, in transportation – men should be targeted to discourage them from spending so much on car fuel.
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Carlsson-Kanyama also observed that it makes people uncomfortable to discuss the fact that men and women affect the environment differently.
Asmae Ourkiya, a doctoral researcher in ecofeminism and environmental justice at the University of Limerick in Ireland, echoed Carlsson-Kanyama’s point that masculine identities are heavily associated with fossil fuel extraction and consumption and resistance to sustainable diets.
Ourkiya and Carlsson-Kanyama think world governments need to consider how climate change impacts men and women differently, as not only do women have smaller carbon footprints than men, but also, according to the United Nations, women are more vulnerable to climate change — a fact that “should be reflected in the fight against climate disasters.”
The study’s publication follows the devastating repercussions of climate change witnessed across the US and Canada as record-breaking heatwaves left many dead.