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Worktime Reduction as a Solution to Climate Change: Five Scenarios Compared for the UK

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  • King, Lewis C.
  • van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M.

Abstract

Reducing working hours in an economy has been discussed as a policy which may have benefits in achieving particular economic, social and environmental goals. This study proposes five different scenarios to reduce the working hours of full-time employees by 20% with the aim of cutting greenhouse gas emissions: a three-day weekend, a free Wednesday, reduced daily hours, increased holiday entitlement and a scenario in which the time reduction is efficiently managed by companies to minimise their office space. We conceptually analyse the effects of each scenario on time use patterns through both business and worker activities, and how these might affect energy consumption in the economy. To assess which of the scenarios may be most effective in reducing carbon emissions, this analytical framework is applied as a case study for the United Kingdom. The results suggest that three of the five scenarios offer similar benefits, and are preferable to the other two, with a difference between the best and worst scenarios of 13.03 MTCO2e. The study concludes that there is a clear preference for switching to a four-day working week over other possible work-reduction policies.

Suggested Citation

  • King, Lewis C. & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2017. "Worktime Reduction as a Solution to Climate Change: Five Scenarios Compared for the UK," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 124-134.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:132:y:2017:i:c:p:124-134
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.10.011
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Giorgos Kallis & Michael Kalush & Hugh O.'Flynn & Jack Rossiter & Nicholas Ashford, 2013. "“Friday off”: Reducing Working Hours in Europe," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(4), pages 1-23, April.
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    7. van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2011. "Environment versus growth -- A criticism of "degrowth" and a plea for "a-growth"," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(5), pages 881-890, March.
    8. Kyle Knight & Eugene A. Rosa & Juliet B. Schor, 2013. "Reducing growth to achieve environmental sustainability: the role of work hours," Chapters,in: Capitalism on Trial, chapter 12 Edward Elgar Publishing.
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    10. Antal, Miklós, 2014. "Green goals and full employment: Are they compatible?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 276-286.
    11. Pullinger, Martin, 2014. "Working time reduction policy in a sustainable economy: Criteria and options for its design," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 11-19.
    12. François-Xavier Devetter & Sandrine Rousseau, 2011. "Working Hours and Sustainable Development," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 69(3), pages 333-355, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Arvind Ashta, 2017. "Work-sharing from Different Angles: A literature review," Working Papers CEB 17-033, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

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