How Remote Work Supports The Fight Against Climate Change


How Remote Work Supports UN Sustainable Development Goal No. 13 of Combating Climate Change

Climate change has been a hot topic for a number of years. Politicians, nonprofits, and even teenagers have spoken out on conservation and protection needs. Despite a long way to go, there are a variety of ways individuals can make a difference.

On a global scale, the United Nations has been actively working to make the world a better place. With 17 goals in place, called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UN hopes to “end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.”

In particular, goal 13 has a focus on combating climate change. FlexJobs has been detailing the ways in which remote work can help meet many of the UN’s goals, and goal 13 is no exception.

Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

How Remote Work Supports The Fight Against Climate Change 1

According to the Sustainable Development Goals website, “Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow.”

Additional information reported says that “Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased by almost 50% since 1990” and “Emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades.”

When it comes to changing these statistics, remote work can—and does—have a direct impact on the environment.

FlexJobs’ telecommuting report estimated that 3 million tons of greenhouse gases are avoided each year and oil savings reached $980 million due to the 3.9 million people working remotely at least half time. That’s the equivalent of taking 617,000 cars off the road. To put it in perspective, it would take the planting 91 million trees to offset the same level of emissions, according to 2017 data from Global Workplace Analytics.

Global Workplace Analytics also notes that office equipment energy consumption rate is twice that of home office equipment energy consumption, and 70% of employees report they would see their companies in a more favorable light if they helped them reduce their carbon emissions.

FlexJobs, a virtual company since 2007, is a great example of how a remote workforce impacts the climate. In 11 years, FlexJobs has saved 50.49 metric tons of air quality, 3,818 metric tons of greenhouse gas, 46,906 gallons of gas, and 2,393 barrels of oil.

Remote workers are quickly recognizing the ways they are helping the environment through working at home. Laura, a FlexJobs reader who works remotely, shared this about her personal impact:

“I have now worked exclusively at home for almost 24 years. By the estimate above, I’ve avoided emitting 86,400,000 tons of commuting-related greenhouse gasses annually (that’s the equivalent of planting over 2 billion trees!). The wear and tear on my vehicle is also reduced exponentially. My car stays in the garage almost every weekday, unless I have any work-related errands to run, reducing wear and tear on my car, oil changes, and gas usage. When I started working at home, it was a convenience, but looking at these numbers, I now see it as my own contribution to saving the planet.”

Gabrielle, another FlexJobs reader, points out how remote work can lessen the strain of manufacturing on the environment:

“Some of my office equipment and furniture does double duty, providing the added benefit of reducing the amount of manufacturing that would have been necessary otherwise. In addition to that, since I don’t dress differently for work than I do for home, I don’t need to wear two sets of clothing on workdays. As a result, the amount of laundry I do has decreased, the amount of water I use has decreased, and the demand for the manufacture of detergent is that much lower. An added benefit is that I purchase fewer items of clothing, decreasing demand for their manufacture as well. Last, but not least, since I decide how things are done here, I can decide to turn lights off. Something I’ve noticed in any office I’ve ever been in is the wasteful use of lights in rooms that are already fully lit by nature. In fact, if all of us got into the habit of regularly turning off unnecessary lights, we could make a huge combined impact on the environment.”

There is also the added benefit of remote workers being able to continue working through major weather events, such as floods, snow storms, and heat waves. This adds resilience to the economy and decreases risks to individuals even if disasters continue to increase due to climate change.

Learn More about Remote Work’s Impact on the UN’s SDGs

FlexJobs has a full break down on how remote work can assist with many of the SDGs. Check it out for more details.


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