Ecological Limits of Work

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* Policy Report: The Ecological Limits of Work: on carbon emissions, carbon budgets and working time. By Philipp Frey. Autonomy, April 2019



"Faced with accelerating technological progress and a deepening ecological crisis, a growing discussion sees a reduction in working hours as a multiple dividend policy, increasing, among other things, individual wellbeing, productivity and gender equality whilst simultaneously potentially contributing to a reduction in unemployment and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. One cannot help but feel reminded of some earlier sociotechnical visions of a society in which productivity gains would be shared broadly to allow for radically shorter working hours and thus a qualitatively better life." (


"The climate crisis calls for an unprecedented decrease in the economic activity that causes GHG emissions, and this confronts us with, to adapt Paul Lafargue’s phrase, the ‘necessity to be lazy’. 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." (

More information

  • Knight, K.; Rosa, E.A.; Schor, J.B. (2012). ‘Reducing Growth to Achieve

Environmental Sustainability: The Role of Work Hours’; Political Economy Research Institute Working Paper Series, Number 304, University of Massachusetts: Amherst, MA, USA.

  • Nässén, J.; Larsson, J.; (2015). ‘Would shorter working time reduce

greenhouse gas emissions? An analysis of time use and consumption in Swedish households’, Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, vol. 33, pp. 726–745.

  • O’Neill, D.W.; Fanning, A.L.; Lamb, W.F.; Steinberger, J.K. (2018) ‘A good life

for all within planetary boundaries’, Nature Sustainability, 1, pp. 88–95.

  • Stronge, W.; Harper, A. (2019). ‘The Shorter Working Week: a radical and

pragmatic proposal’. Hampshire: Autonomy. (online at: http://autonomy. work/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Shorter-working-week-docV6.pdf)