The four-day work week could help us fight climate change

Over the course of the last year, we’ve seen growing interest in the idea of a four-day workweek, with the governments of New Zealand and Singapore openly considering shifting their countries away from the traditional five-day workweek.

Advocates of the idea often argue that limiting employees’ working time to 32 hours a week can go a long way in creating a healthier work-life balance as well as improving productivity. A recent report, however, shows that implementing the idea could also have huge environmental impacts.

The study, conducted by the environmental organization Platform London and the 4 Day Week Campaign, found that introducing a four-day working week by 2025 would shrink the UK’s emissions by as much as 127m tonnes — a reduction of more than 20 percent and equivalent to removing the country’s entire fleet of private cars from the roads.

According to the study, a shorter working week can play a key role in tackling climate change, by not only reducing emissions from energy-hungry workplaces and transport, but also by slashing the carbon footprint of imported goods.

“It would not only help deliver on the promise to build back better, but it would also have a major impact on carbon emissions,” said Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP, who is among a growing number of politicians backing the idea. “It would improve people’s health, give them the time to give back to their communities as so many want to do, and help address the climate emergency.”

In addition to reducing emissions associated with commuting and the high-energy use of workplaces, the report also found that giving people an extra day off would increase the amount of “low-carbon” activities — such as resting and seeing family — that are essential for improving people’s mental and physical health, as well as strengthening families and communities, all while reducing overall consumption.

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