The gender divide reaches climate change

By Rachel England - 19 Feb 2011 12:44:1 GMT
The gender divide reaches climate change

New research indicates that the gender divide has spilled over into the climate change debate, with a French report suggesting that men are bigger eco-offenders than women.

Two independent studies carried out by separate teams of European scientists looked at data on the consumption and daily lifestyles of men and women in industrialised countries. One found that a typical French man causes emissions of 39.3 kilograms (kg) of carbon dioxide (CO2), whereas a woman causes 32.3kg.

Author of the French report, Frederic Chome, said: ''Although our calculation method is very approximate, I believe the results are a good indicator of the differences in environmental contamination resulting from the different behaviours of men and women.''

The second report, undertaken by scientists from Sweden and Finalnd, found that men consum more meat and processed drinks than women and use cars more often and for longer journeys, thus creating greater CO2 emissions.

It was also found that, apart from differences in eating and transportation habits, it is the consumption of alcohol and tobacco that drives up men's share of emissions.

Experts from Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research noted that the polluting habits attributed to men are largely the result of the role they play in society, commenting that these differences could be balanced in future ''to the extent that equal opportunity allows women to climb the labour ladder, while men take on more household duties.''

Indeed, the studies found that the only instance in which women caused greater greenhouse gas emissions was during household tasks like cooking and cleaning.

Men were also found to use more energy in general, with differences in energy use between genders ranging from six per cent in Norway to 39 per cent in Greece.

According to Annika Carlsson-Kanyama and Riita Raty, authors of the second report, these findings suggest that European governments should refocus their emissions-reduction efforts on convincing the male population to modify their transportation and eating habits to increase energy efficiency in related activities and save unnecessary emissions.