Leisure proponents, rejoice! A new study says that cutting work hours would slash greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change.
The idea goes that by reducing hours that factories and offices are operating, energy usage would drop, according to a study authored by economist David Rosnick and released by the Center for Economic Policy and Research.
In US News, Rosnick argues that, by shortening working hours, the resulting diminished carbon emissions “could prevent as much as half of the expected global temperature rise by 2100.”
Rosnick says that developing countries have to choose which work schedule they’re going to follow: an American model of 40 hours a week with little vacation, or a European model with less output and lower emissions.
An important caveat is what people do with this extra leisure time. If it’s gardening or reading a book in the backyard hammock, then carbon emissions will drop, but if this newfound vacation time is used to take a jumbo jet ride to Thailand, then one type of emissions is simply traded for another.
It’s also critical to address the personal and national economic climate of places. Reducing work hours could throw people into desperate financial situations and stunt national economic growth — that is, unless a country invests in green tech and bolsters its green workforce for greater global competitiveness (take Maryland’s approach, for example).
Even if the U.S. doesn’t move towards a European workweek, we can do a few more things to improve office efficiency — like turning off printers and lights; using laptops rather than PCs; and replacing standard bulbs with energy saving bulbs.