‘Women emit less greenhouse gases than men’

Women’s lifestyles are less polluting than men’s, but the ‘fair sex’ is more often the victim of climate change. That is the remarkable conclusion of an economist consulted by the French international news agency AFP. A nice little tidbit to reveal on March 8th, International Women’s Day, focusing on issues such as gender (in)equality.

“Even if it may seem at first glance that climate change – for which greenhouse gas emissions are largely responsible – affects the entire population in the same way, studies highlight gender disparities in the behavior of men and women causing greenhouse gas emissions and the consequences of climate change,” according to a post by Oriane Wegner, quoted by the daily Libération.

Diet also plays a role

Wegner, a climate economics specialist at the Bank of France, relies on a Swedish study of 2021 to affirm that “the consumption positions of men are at the origin of 16% more greenhouse gas emissions on average than those of women. The gap is explained by the propensity of men to consume goods and services that emit more, such as fuel.”

CO2 emissions from flying are slightly higher for men than for women. Men are also more likely to opt for more distant car holiday destinations. And it’s not only a matter of transportation. Diet could also play a role, as two-thirds (67%) of vegetarians in France are women, according to an Ifop (Institut Français d’Opinion Publique) survey of May 2021. And a less meaty diet results in fewer emissions.

Different expenditure

In 2021, single men emitted an average of ten tons of greenhouse gases, compared to just over eight tons for single women, even though the expenses of the former are “barely 2%” higher than those of the latter. “Women spend more money on goods and services with lower emissions, including care, health, and at the margin, furniture, and clothing,” says Oriane Wegner.

However, if gender is a relevant criterion to explain disparities in terms of emissions, “income level often plays a more important role”,  as well as the place of residence being urban or rural.

More female victims

Faced with the consequences of climate change, men and women are far from equal. Most people driven from their homes by extreme weather events are women (80%). And more men than women died as a result of the devastating Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005 in the US.

“National public policies and international policy frameworks could benefit from taking into account the interactions between gender and the environment to strengthen their effectiveness and their articulation with climate justice objectives,” concludes the author.


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