Does gender matter for energy efficiency and climate change?

Ingrida Bremere and Daina Indriksone, Baltic Environmental Forum - Latvia

Implementation of the climate change mitigation policy is inevitably related to consumption. Consumption, and not industry or power stations, is considered as the root cause of GHG emissions – as more energy is consumed higher production to satisfy the demand will be in place. We want to look at this aspect from perspective of an individual consumer who uses energy on daily basis in house (space and water heating, lighting, using electric appliances, cooking), by choosing the transport mode and through food consumption patterns. However, when thinking about the individual consumer it is necessary to distinguish behaviour differences of women and men.

Further examples are presented by Gotelind Alber[1] (2011) on consumption, behaviour and attitudes: …. Women spend more time on household activities such as cooking, cleaning and washing, while men spend more time on information and entertainment, such as watching TV. … Men usually use more private motorised transport than women, with larger, more fuel consuming vehicles. … Women and men have different preferences in terms of food: men tend to eat more meat, while woman eat more vegetables, fruits and dairy products. Energy requirements for producing food are estimated to be higher for men that for women, these can mount up even to 20% in some countries.

In light of acknowledging different attitudes towards energy efficiency from men and women, herewith we top up results from the questionnaire to consumers[2]. By analysis of drivers towards saving energy we have noticed 8-10% difference in preferences between men and women. It turned out, that men certainly would be more eager to save energy provided that they can receive financial incentives and considered to be progressive and go with the trend. Whereas women would certainly be more motivated to save energy because of environmental concerns and if someone would tell them on how to act properly.  However, this survey does not provide evidence whether both, men and women actually perform in this way. 

These cases once again confirm that gender really matters for motivation to climate change mitigation actions. Selective approach to men and women may turn successful for justification of the need for investments towards improvement of energy efficiency as well as in climate-friendly technologies[3]. Accordingly, the awareness raising activities shall contain targeted information and reasoning taking into account gender preferences. As for effectiveness of policies and programs to climate change mitigation related to various sectors, it seems that gender-sensitive approach will bring to better results.

[1] Alber, G. (2011). Gender, Cities, and Climate Change: Thematic report prepared for Cities and Climate Change – Global Report and Human Settlements. Nairobi: UN-HABITAT.

[2] Based on survey in the INTENSE project at partner municipalities in 2009: results from municipalities Riga and Cesis (LV), Saku (EE), Ružomberok (SK), Veszprem (HU), Koprivnica and Samobor (HR). Total number of respondents ~660 female and ~450 male 

[3] For example, if women make investments in climate-friendly technologies, e.g., to install solar collectors, they do it more for environmental reasons while for men the cost savings tend to be more relevant (Alber, 2011). 


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