Nine-Hour Work Weeks Needed To Stop Global Warming

To reach carbon emissions targets, UK workers would need to reduce their working hours to nine hours per week.

A new report produced by the progressive think tank Autonomy has looked at the UK's working hours as a measurement of carbon emissions and calculated how much the average working week would need to be reduced to reach carbon targets.

Put simply, work productivity leads to a release of greenhouse gases.

Source: Getty.

This link has been established in economics papers that note working hours lead to GDP growth, which is then translated into income, consumption, and greenhouse gases.

The chain has been called the "work and spend" cycle and describes how employees become locked into a trajectory of fixed hours and rising consumption.

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For every percent decrease in working hours, there is a decrease in carbon footprint.

The Autonomy research explores how much the average UK working week would need to reduce in order to stay below the Paris Climate Agreement's maximum acceptable global temperature rise of two degrees Celsius.

Source: Getty.

For the UK, this equals nine hours of work -- per week, per person.

Sweden would need to cut down to 12 hours of work per week and Germany would need to cut the working week to just six.

The authors found that even notable decreases like cutting the working week by one day would "fail to decrease carbon emissions to a sustainable level by itself".

The author of the paper, Philip Frey, then asserts that "the climate crisis calls for an unprecedented decrease in the economic activity that causes GHG emissions, and this confronts us with...the 'necessity to be lazy'."

Frey said material consumption has to decrease to achieve ecological sustainability and that time off for workers should become "less of a luxury and more of an urgency".