Working a NINE-HOUR WEEK could be the key to saving us all, experts say

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BRITS should chill out more and work a nine-hour week in order to save the planet, according to experts.

Think tank Autonomy claimed drastically shorter working weeks are necessary to meet the greenhouse gas targets set for the UK by the United Nations.

Working such long hours isn't do anyone any favours
Working such long hours isn’t doing anyone any favours
Getty – Contributor

Research found that the switch to nine-hour weeks would keep the country on track to keep global warming below 2C.

The paper suggests Sweden would have to cut its working hours to 12-per-week and Germany to just six.

Autonomy is now calling on workers across the world to cut their hours or face climate change chaos.

The report said relaxing at home is actually “less of a luxury and more of an urgency”.

“Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them,” said Will Stronge, the director of Autonomy.

RISE OF ROBOT WORKERS

Mr Stronge explained that the increasing use of robot workers meant the plan was possible.

“The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly,” he said.

“However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary.”

The report’s recommendations are based on UN and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) data on greenhouse gas emissions.

Data suggests the UK, Germany and Sweden all require drastic reductions in working hours to decarbonise the economy to prevent climate breakdown.

“The climate crisis calls for an unprecedented decrease in the economic activity that causes [greenhouse gas] emissions, and this confronts us with… the ‘necessity to be lazy’,” the report says.

‘URGENT’ CHANGE NEEDED

“If ecological sustainability requires an overall decrease in material consumption, a vast expansion in terms of leisure time and thus an increase in ‘time prosperity’ would be less of a luxury and more of an urgency.”

As the climate crisis worsens, the necessity to take action is becoming greater, the report argues.

The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK’s Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.

The new report comes after scientists found that working a four-day week would make us all happier and healthier.

In a report published by the New Economics Forum earlier this year, campaigners argued that we should be paid the same as we do now – but working one day fewer.

“Reduced hours are highly correlated with lower emissions, and they also yield improvements in worker well-being, gender equity, and productivity,” she said.

“We are making the case for a reduction in working time without a reduction in pay,” Aidan Harper of the NEF told New Scientist.

The group claimed working between 50 and 60 hours a week was bad for both mental and physical health.

BRITS WORK AVERAGE OF 42 HOURS PER WEEK

Feel like you spend your life at the office? Well, you do; we spend more time there than anyone else in Europe

Denmark works the shortest week, clocking in just 37 hours, 48 minutes.

Scientists from the Australian National University have found that you can work up to 40 hours a week before it starts to have a detrimental effect on you.

We’re in the middle of stress crisis in this country right now, with 74 per cent of Brits saying that they’d felt “overwhelmed and unable to cope” at some point in the past year.

For 18-24-year-olds, that figure shoots up to 83 per cent.

So it’s hardly a wonder that we’re crying out for more time off.

BAD FOR ENVIRONMENT

But it’s not just the immediate health issues that come with working so much that could be improved.

Experts also believe that we’re ruining the environment by working so much.

Scientists from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden found that introducing a four-day week could cut emissions by 16 per cent.

The main reason we’d release fewer ozone-layer-damaging emissions is because we’d have less income to spend on environmentally unfriendly stuff.

But also, we’d be driving less and potentially using less electricity needed to power offices and businesses.

60% WANT FOUR-DAY WEEK

While the report calls for wages to remain the same regardless of office hours, nearly 10 per cent of Brits say that they’d be willing to take a pay cut in return for more free-time.

In January, a poll found that 60 per cent of Brits wanted a four-day working week.

“At a time when wealthy countries must achieve rapid reductions in carbon emissions, there is no better way to supplement energy policy with a new approach to work time,” Juliet Schor, Professor of Sociology at the University of Boston wrote in the report.


Prof Schor previously called for the hours we work each week to be cut from 40 to 30.

In 2011, the NEF advised the UK government to follow the lead of Belgium, where workers have the right to request shorter hours and an increase in the minimum wage.

At the time, the NEF said that it was “time to make the ‘part-time’ the new ‘full-time’”.


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