Four-Day Working Week Would Slash UK's Carbon Footprint, Report Reveals | TOTUM
Ben HaywardMay 27th
2021

Switching to a statutory four-day working week, with no loss of pay, would dramatically reduce the UK’s carbon footprint, helping the country meet its binding climate targets, a report has found. 

The study, carried out by Platform London and the 4-Day Week Campaign, found that moving to the shorter week by 2025 would shrink the UK’s emissions by 127m tonnes - a 20% reduction equal to taking every private car in the UK off the road, reports the Guardian

The idea of a four-day week has grown in popularity over recent years, with various governments and private businesses conducting trials among their workforces. 

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Unilever began a year-long trial in New Zealand in December, while the government’s of Spain and Scotland both launched national level pilot schemes.

Supporters say that reducing working hours comes with multiple benefits including job creation, improvements to both mental and physical health and the strengthening of families and communities as people have more free time to dedicate to things other than work.  

Another recent report found the move could prevent mass job losses following the Covid pandemic and that the majority of larger companies could cope with the change through higher productivity or by raising prices.

However, it’s the role that a four-day working week could play in tackling the climate emergency that has been highlighted in the most recent report.

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The cut in working hours would not only reduce energy use in the workplace and cut transport emissions due to a reduction in commuting, it would also see a rise in the amount of ‘low-carbon’ activities - such as rest, exercise, community-building and seeing family - that people take part in, the report states. 

Speaking about the idea, Green party MP, Caroline Lucas, said: “It would not only help deliver on the promise to build back better, it would also have a major impact on carbon emissions. It would improve people’s health, give them the time to give back to their communities as so many want to do, and help address the climate emergency.”

Environmental researcher and report author at Platform London, Laurie Mompelat, said: “Shifting to a four-day working week with fair pay for all can help us change the way value is created in society by making more space for care, rest and relationships.

“A shorter working week without loss of pay is a crucial investment in human capital, at a time where everyone’s contribution, care and creativity is required to bring about a more sustainable society.”

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Joe Ryle, a campaigner with the 4 Day Week Campaign, said: “We already know that the four-day week is good for workers’ mental health and wellbeing but this report proves that it can be a great move for the environment too.

“The environmental movement must get behind the calls for a shorter working week as it could make a real difference in the race to limit the worst effects of climate change.”

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