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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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    Cited by:

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    2. O'Garra, Tanya & Fouquet, Roger, 2022. "Willingness to reduce travel consumption to support a low-carbon transition beyond COVID-19," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 193(C).
    3. Arvind Ashta, 2017. "Work-sharing from Different Angles: A literature review," Working Papers CEB 17-033, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    4. Cieplinski, André & D'Alessandro, Simone & Guarnieri, Pietro, 2021. "Environmental impacts of productivity-led working time reduction," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 179(C).
    5. Gerold, Stefanie & Hoffmann, Maja & Aigner, Ernest, 2023. "Towards a critical understanding of work in ecological economics: A postwork perspective," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 212(C).
    6. Patrick Bottazzi, 2019. "Work and Social-Ecological Transitions: A Critical Review of Five Contrasting Approaches," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(14), pages 1-19, July.
    7. Sébastien Charles & Thomas Dallery & Jonathan Marie, 2021. "Covid-19 and interweaving of crises: Restoring Keynesianism in order to rebuild macroeconomic policy [Covid-19 et imbrication des crises : réhabiliter le keynésianisme pour refonder la politique ma," Post-Print hal-03148074, HAL.

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