Less work, more free time

Since carbon emissions are a function of consumption, and consumption is a function of income, then reducing income should reduce carbon emissions. But whos going to voluntarily reduce their income!?

Rather than focusing on work/income, we need to focus on increasing ones free time. As a consequence, income, consumption, and therefore emissions will all decrease.

In theory peoples propensity to earn more should decline with income, but the opposite seems to be true, much to the bewilderment of the late John Maynard Keynes who predicted that technological development and efficiency gains would lead to a 15 hour workweek by 2030.

The flip side of this is the more time-off we have, the more time-off we want so the Sensitive Intervention Point lies in taking a bit more time off e.g. mandating a 4-day work week, or more annual leave, will lead to a more radical shift in the conventional work-life balance. Who knows maybe JMK will be right all along and a 15 hour workweek will materialise by 2030 and with it a significant reduction in emissions.





Trigger (intervention)

A policy initiative e.g. a mandated 4-day workweek could kick the system into a new state. Alternatively, global businesses looking to attract the most innovative talent (e.g. Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix; Alphabet) could offer more time to work on employees own (not-for-profit?) ventures, reward good work through bonuses of time-off work not money, and so on. A social media campaign showing aspirational lifestyles involving less work and more time could soften the resistance to such developments.



We live in a blur of multi-tasking, distraction, coffee and digital noise. Attention is in short supply. We are in need of a better quality of life.


Feedback Dynamics

The more time-off we have, the more time-off we want.


Timescale and scaleability

If nation states, companies and individuals can show they can still be successful whilst working less this will in turn encourage other actors to follow in their footsteps. In time, a 15 hour workweek could be the key indicator of a successful country/company/individual.





Mostyn Brown

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