Shed suits and ties and save the planet?

As the mercury rises to summer levels in Vancouver this week, consider, for a moment, how men might change the way they dress to fight global warming.

Is it possible that in offices where the guys wear suits and ties the air conditioning has to be cranked up?

It's an issue that's already been brought up in more tropical climes. In 2005, Japan's environment minister Yuriko Koike penned the so-called Cool Biz initiative to get men to ditch suits and ties in an effort to get companies to turn down the air conditioning. Government officials and even the prime minister came to work in shirt sleeves. It was seen as a shocking disregard for office dress that had been followed strictly for decades. But by the second year, the program was estimated to have cut about 1.4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions—axing an incredible half of monthly Tokyo CO2 emissions.

More recently, a Times of India column has outlined the potential benefits of bringing such a policy to India. If all the country's office, hotel, campus, and mall spaces were allowed to go up just three degrees, it could mean a 20 percent saving in power and carbon-dioxide emissions.

That article also raised another, gender-disparity aspect of the suit tradition: it leaves women, who often wear lighter, gauzier summer fabrics, shivering in overly air-conditioned offices.

So can Vancouverites handle the heat? Try to imagine working amid the suggested temperature for Japanese office buildings under Cool Biz: 28 degrees Celsius. That's hot stuff.

Go ahead, all you smart-dressed men: rip off that tie and free yourself from that suffocating, pinstripe jacket. Tell anyone who complains you're doing it for Mother Earth. With temperatures in the mid-20s all week, there's no better time than now.

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