“Men are more polluting than women” is the conclusion of a recent study related to transportation in Sweden. It found that men own 75 percent of car and commute more widely than women. They also travel by air more than women. By contrast, women in industrialized countries use much less emissions-intensive modes of transport than men, their level of car-ownership is lower, and their share of public transport – bus or rail – use is higher.
Evidence from theUK’s Equal Opportunities Commission supports this finding, showing that women and men travel for different purposes. Men are more likely to do so for commuting and business reasons, whereas women are more likely to use transport for shopping or taking children to school.
Very little attention has been paid to gender difference on people’s consumption and lifestyles and the impact this has on climate change. Noting this gap, the Swedish study examined the extent to which women generally live in a more sustainable way and leave a smaller ecological footprint than most men. The study found that men account for the bulk of energy use, carbon-dioxide emissions, air pollution and climate change – both among the rich and the poor.
One strategy that has been proposed to promote sustainable and gender equitable transport is to boost women’s participation in decision-making on community planning, traffic systems and transportation. There is also a need to invest more resources in improving women’s mobility through better provision of public transport like trains and buses, which cause less environmental damage.
Such studies in the newly emerging economies of India and China will be very useful in devising proper mitigation strategies for climate change problems. It is important because transport experts in Asia predict that hundreds of cities will soon have to make major new investments in modern transport systems. Alongside practical efforts to increase women’s participation in decision-making on future climate change planning is a much desired practical step across the world.