July 22, 2021 - 7:00am

It’s not called man-made climate change for nothing. According to new research from Sweden — covered in yesterday’s Guardian — single men are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than single women. 

Despite spending similar amounts of money, the male carbon footprint was 16% bigger than that left behind by the average female. 

The bulk of the difference was travel related. For both everyday transport and holidays, men literally went further in their consumption of fossil fuels. 

There are those who’d love to fuse wokery with greenery. Take a look, for instance, at a new report from the European Environment Bureau and the WECF (with financial support from the EU). This too, sticks it to the men:

“…environmental impacts are gendered. For example, men cause on average 8 to 40% more emissions than women, mainly due to their mobility and dietary behaviour.”

As it happens, the Swedish research, published in the Journal for Industrial Ecology, looked at carbon emissions caused by food choices and found no significant difference between men and women. But there’s a wider problem with using environmental metrics to pursue progressive social agendas. In fact, it’s a deeply dangerous thread to be pulling on.

For instance, while one can make a comparison between single men and women one can also compare singletons with couples. As noted in the Swedish study, “expenditure for housing and transport is shared in households with several members” thus reducing the carbon emissions per head. In other words, traditional families are more eco-friendly than the living arrangements that define contemporary individualism. So if we’re going to eco-shame men for their choices, are we also going to do the same to singletons of both sexes for how they choose to live?

Or what about immigration? The flow of migrant labour across borders might meet with liberal approbation, but it creates a structural need for long-haul aviation. Or is the new progressive message to be: “welcome to our country — you’ll never see your family again”?

And speaking of global travel, when can we expect the first big campaign against the student gap year? Don’t hold your breath, because while eco-shaming men is cool, eco-shaming the young isn’t. 

The environmental movement needs to think twice before motoring down the road of identity politics. By all means, divide the technologies we use into clean and dirty categories — but don’t do the same to human beings. 

Peter Franklin is Associate Editor of UnHerd. He was previously a policy advisor and speechwriter on environmental and social issues.