Introducing a four-day workweek with no lost wages would significantly reduce the UK’s carbon footprint and help the country meet its binding climate targets, according to a report.
The study found that switching to a four-day week by 2025 would cut UK emissions by 127 million tonnes, a reduction of more than 20% and equivalent to removing the entire private car fleet from the country.
The shorter workweek has gained ground among economists, businesses and some politicians in recent years. Consumer goods company Unilever announced a year-long trial in New Zealand starting last December and the Spanish and Scottish governments have launched pilot projects nationwide.
Supporters say reducing work hours would create jobs, improve people’s mental and physical health, and strengthen families and communities. A recent report found that the change could prevent a sharp rise in unemployment after the Covid pandemic and that most large companies would be able to cope with the change by increasing productivity or raising prices.
The study, by the environmental organization London platform and the 4-day week campaign, found that a four-day work week could also play a key role in tackling the growing climate emergency, not only by reducing emissions from high-energy workplaces and transport, but also by reducing the carbon footprint of goods consumed in the UK but produced abroad.
Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, is among a growing number of politicians who support the idea. “This would not only help deliver on the promise to build back better, but it would also have a major impact on carbon emissions. It would improve people’s health, give them time to give back to their communities as many want, and help tackle the climate emergency.
The report found that a reduction in working hours would reduce energy consumption in the workplace and reduce transport emissions by reducing commuting. He also found that giving people an extra day off increased the amount of ‘low carbon’ activities they engaged in from rest to exercise, from community building to visiting. of the family, thus helping to reduce overall consumption.
Laurie Mompelat, environmental researcher and reporting author at Platform London, said: “Shifting to a four-day work week with fair pay for all can help us change the way value is created in society by creating more space for care, rest and relationships. .
“A shorter workweek without loss of pay is a crucial investment in human capital, at a time when everyone’s contribution, attention and creativity are needed to build a more sustainable society.”
Joe Ryle, an activist for the 4-day week campaign, said: “We already know that the four-day week is good for the mental health and well-being of workers, but this report proves that it can. also be a big step for the environment.
“The environmental movement must support calls for a shorter work week as it could make a real difference in the race to limit the worst effects of climate change.”