Science

Men have a bigger carbon footprint than women because they buy high-emission goods

Men have a larger carbon footprint than women because they are more likely to spend money on high-emission categories such as red meat, alcohol and gasoline

  • Single men produce on average 16% more greenhouse gases than women
  • This is because men buy more fuel for vehicles and meat consumption
  • Single women tend to spend money on health care, clothing and furniture
  • These goods and services are considered ‘low emission products’
  • However, women consume more dairy than men, which has a similar carbon footprint to meat consumption

Single men contribute more to climate change than women by purchasing goods with a larger carbon footprint, such as meat, tobacco, alcohol and vehicle fuel, a new study reveals.

A team of Swedish researchers found that, on average, single men were responsible for 16 percent more greenhouse gases than their counterparts, despite men spending only two percent more on goods.

The research shows that women tend to spend money on ‘low-emitting products’ such as healthcare, furniture and clothing.

Holidays played a large role in emissions for both sexes, with a third of CO2 emitted annually by an average spender tied to a holiday.

However, men were more likely to drive on an outing, so their leisure trips caused more emissions than women who previously took public transport.

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Men contribute more to climate change than women by buying goods with a larger carbon footprint

Men contribute more to climate change than women by buying goods with a larger carbon footprint

“The difference in emissions between men and women is not due to differences in spending, but rather to differences in spending patterns,” lead author Annika Carlsson Kanyama of the research firm Ecoloop in Sweden and her colleagues wrote in the study published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology.

‘Men spend only slightly more money than women, 2%, but emit 16% more greenhouse gases.

“This is due to a number of factors, such as more spending by women on low-emission products and services such as health care, furniture and clothing, while men are spending much more money (70% more) on greenhouse gas-intensive items such as fuel.”

Household expenditure data was provided by Statistics Sweden (SCB) which unfortunately had no data after 2012, according to the studies , but updated the data to 2016 with relevant consumer price indices.

The average single man tends to buy higher-emission goods such as meat, tobacco, alcohol and vehicle fuel

The average single man tends to buy higher-emission goods such as meat, tobacco, alcohol and vehicle fuel

Research shows that women tend to spend money on 'low-emission products', such as healthcare, furniture and clothing

Research shows that women tend to spend money on ‘low-emission products’, such as healthcare, furniture and clothing

The team only looked at the spending habits of single men and women because a ‘large proportion’ of people in affluent countries, such as the EU, live in single-person households.

Although men consumed more meat, women bought more dairy products, which is almost equal in terms of carbon footprint.

“Meat and dairy products have much higher emissions than any of their replacements,” the study reads.

‘Pork is five times more polluting than tofu and lamb is 25 times more polluting than tofu.

‘Milk is five times as polluting as oatmeal drink and cheese is four times as polluting as vegan cheese.

Although men consumed more meat, women bought more dairy products, which is almost equal to the carbon footprint

Although men consumed more meat, women bought more dairy products, which is almost equal to the carbon footprint

‘Conventionally grown lettuce’ [in commercial facilities] is 12 times more polluting than locally grown lettuce.’

“The changes in spending have a slightly different effect on men and women, as before the change, men spent more money on meat and meat products (9%) and women more money on dairy products (23%).

“The changes contributed to a 32-45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the food purchased.”

The studies suggested that people could reduce their carbon emissions by 36 percent to 38 percent if they consume plant-based foods, travel by train instead of planes or cars, and buy second-hand furniture instead of brand new items.

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