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Paper straws won’t save the planet – we need a four-day week

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When the Extinction Rebellion protesters took to the streets, I was doubtful about how effective their tactics would be in creating meaningful change. Fortunately, I have been proven wrong. Following their protests, the public now sees the climate crisis as a pressing issue. According to a recent survey, nearly 70% of people in the UK want urgent action on the climate emergency. Many political leaders are listening. In one of her last acts as prime minister, Theresa May set the target of the UK achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050. Although the date for zero carbon could be much sooner, it is an important step in the right direction.

However, to achieve a more ecologically sustainable economy, changing minds will not be enough, we need to change behaviours. Small tweaks such as not using plastic straws or minimising food waste will make some difference. But if we hope to make real progress, we need to make bigger alterations in what we do. One behaviour change that will have a positive impact on the environment is a four-day working week.

According to a cluster of recent studies, working less is good for the environment. One analysis found that if we spent 10% less time working, our carbon footprint would be reduced by 14.6%. If we cut the hours we work by 25% – or a day and a quarter each week – our carbon footprint would decline by 36.6%. Another study found that if people in the US (who work notoriously long hours) worked similar hours to Europeans........

© The Guardian