About UNEP UNEP Offices News Centre Publications Events Awards Milestones UNEP Store
GEO Year Book 2004/5  
UNEP Website GEO Home Page
Climate change and gender

Transportation choices affect energy use and harmful emissions.
Source: Permdhai Vesmaporn/UNEP/Still Pictures

Climate change is predicted to cause displacement of populations due to sea level rise. In many parts of the developing world it is expected to increase water scarcity, to increase the disease burden, to negatively impact agriculture, and to cause more frequent extreme weather events (IPCC 2001).

Analysts have assumed that the effects of climate change are very likely to differ by gender, because of the strong relationship between poverty and vulnerability, and the fact that women as a group are poorer and less powerful than men (Skutsch 2002). But the discussion has remained largely speculative, with little research to support it. Neither the impact of climate on a gender basis, nor the respective roles of men and women in addressing climate change have been considered in global negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The potential value of gender as a factor in deciding on policies and programmes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has received even less attention. For example, as users of household energy, women can play a key role in energy conservation, as well as in promoting renewable energy technologies.

Both sexes make decisions about the forms of transport they use and how frequently they travel, and there are gender differences in the choices they make. In developed countries, for example, women tend to use public transport more than men.

To encourage a policy focus on these areas, more gender-disaggregated research is needed on energy and climate change topics, including vulnerability to climate change and adaptive capacity among different social groups (Denton and Parikh 2003). Other areas for gender-disaggregated research include:

  • Environmental aspects of energy production including biomass;
  • Environmental awareness and attitudes about energy issues including renewable/ alternative energy;
  • Energy consumption, use and saving;
  • Impacts of privatizing energy markets; and
  • Policy instruments in the energy sector, including policies on climate change.

Earthprint.com Order the Book