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When it comes to climate change, male consumers may be a little more to blame than their female counterparts. Men spend their money on goods and services that emit greenhouse gases, such as meat and fuel, at a much higher rate than women, according to a new Swedish study.
Posted this week in the Journal of industrial ecology, the study looked at the spending habits of consumers rather than the climate impact of producers and manufacturers to see if households could reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing different products and services.
“The way they spend is very stereotypical – women spend more money on home decor, health and clothes and men spend more money on fuel for cars, restaurant meals, etc. ‘alcohol and tobacco,’ study author Annika Carlsson Kanyama, of research company Ecoloop Sweden, told The Guardian.
The authors analyzed Swedish government data up to 2012 on the consumption patterns of single households, men and women, as well as other more recent data on consumer prices. They said a “large proportion” of people in wealthy countries, such as those in the European Union, live in one-person households.
Single Swedish men didn’t spend much more money than Swedish single women in total – only around 2% more – but what they bought tended to have a bigger impact on the environment, according to the ‘study.
In fact, men spent their money on things that emitted 16% more greenhouse gases than women bought. For example, men spent 70% more money on “greenhouse gas-intensive items” such as fuel for their vehicles.
There were also differences between men and women within categories, such as spending on food and drink. Men bought meat at a higher rate than women, although women bought dairy products faster than men. Meat production and dairy production lead to high greenhouse gas emissions.
The study found that men also spent more than women when it came to travel, both on plane tickets and “package tours” as well as on vacation by car.
The authors suggested that people could reduce their carbon emissions by 36-38% by switching to plant-based foods, traveling by train rather than plane or car, and buying used furniture or cars. repairing or renting certain items.