Men are bigger polluters than women, study shows

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When it comes to climate emissions, men outdrive women.

A new study has found that men’s consumer habits are responsible for 16% more greenhouse gas emissions than women. The difference is largely due to men spending more on petrol and diesel for their cars, the Guardian reported. Researchers, however, did not include work vehicle fuel, including taxis and employment-specific vans, in their data.

Despite the gendered emission difference, the study reported little difference in the amount of money single Swedish men and women spent on emission-making purchases.

“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,” study author Annika Carlsson Kanyama told the publication of her research, which was published Monday in the Journal of Industrial Ecology. 

For both men and women, vacations were the most significant source of their emissions, followed by transport for men and food for women. 

Study authors — who set out to investigate “how consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions from private households can be reduced” according to their abstract — found that by eating plant-based foods instead of meat and dairy, and going on train-based vacations instead of plane- or car-based ones, both male and female emissions were cut by 40%. 

The proportion of emissions holidays accounted for took the researchers by surprise. “That is a lot more than I expected,” Carlsson Kanyama told the Guardian, qualifying the proposed diet and holiday transit alternatives as “substantial changes” but ones which “at least you don’t need to get yourself another job, or borrow money from the bank” for. 

While cutting down on personal emissions has become increasingly prioritized by many people as the climate crisis worsens, previous data have clearly shown that the vast majority of damage is done by only a handful of companies.

“The great tragedy of the climate crisis is that seven and a half billion people must pay the price – in the form of a degraded planet – so that a couple of dozen polluting interests can continue to make record profits,” leading climate scientist Michael Mann told the Guardian in 2019. “It is a great moral failing of our political system that we have allowed this to happen.” 

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