The latest time-wasting from Europe

Many aspects of gender inequality are well known and well documented. But there seems to be little awareness that male behaviour leads to greater emissions of climate-changing gases.

That is the conclusion of two independent studies by separate teams of European scientists, both based on statistical data on consumption and daily activities of men and women in industrialised countries.

Frédéric Chomé, a French consultant on environmental and sustainable development issues, stated that a typical French woman causes emissions of 32.3 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2) per day, on average, while a man causes 39.3 kg of CO2 emissions.

"The estimates are based on a study of human activities separated by gender, conducted by France's National Institute of Statistics and Economics (INSEE)," Chomé told Tierramérica. "Although our calculation method is very approximate, I believe the results are a good indicator of the differences in environmental contamination resulting from the different behaviours of men and women," added the author of the study titled "24 Hours Exactly: Your Personal Carbon Account."

Similar conclusions resulted from a study by Annika Carlsson-Kanyama, of Sweden, and Riita Räty, of Finland, about the behaviours of men and women in 10 daily activities in Germany, Greece, Norway and Sweden.

According to their study, "Comparing Energy Use by Gender, Age and Income in Some European Countries," men consume more meat and processed beverages than women do, use automobiles more frequently and driving longer distances, resulting in greater CO2 emissions.

Commenting on the two studies, Corinna Altenburg and Fritz Reusswig, of Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, noted that some of the more polluting habits attributed to the male population are the result of the social roles they usually play in society.

In transportation, for example, men make more trips in airplane and automobile, raising considerably their ecological footprint, according to the two experts.

That difference could be balanced out in the future, "to the extent that equal opportunity allows women to climb the labour ladder, while men take on more household duties."

Meanwhile, eating habits follow the gender line: men tend to eat more meat, and women eat more fruits and vegetables -- habits that are difficult to change, according to Altenburg and Reusswig.

They suggest that a policy aimed at reducing the male portion of CO2 emissions should focus as much on environmental objectives as issues of urban development, traditionally male jobs, and deeply rooted social customs.

"The goal in eating should be to trade quantity for quality. Reducing the consumption of meat reduces mass production of meat, and that helps fight CO2 emissions from livestock, for example," said the experts.

Chomé found that in France, in eating habits alone, one man is responsible for 7.98 kg of CO2 emissions per day, while one woman is responsible for 6.79 kg per day. The scientists found similar gender differences in nearly all 11 activities analysed.

The only case in which women cause greater greenhouse gas emissions is in carrying out household tasks like cooking and cleaning and washing clothes, according to the study released Nov. 24....

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