Net Zero and chill: dating agencies accused of bringing green dogma into the bedroom

Some of the UK’s largest dating website have been accused of pushing green dogma “into the bedroom” after several were found to be questioning customers on their attitude towards ‘the climate emergency’.

As reported by the Telegraph, some of the UK’s largest dating websites and agencies have been accused of pushing green dogma “into the bedroom” after several were found to be questioning users on their attitudes towards environmental issues – the news comes amid claims that adherence to a particular set of corporate-friendly green policies for addressing human-caused climate change is playing an increasingly large role in partner preferences.  

Terms such as “carbon dating” and “green dating” have been coined in recent years to describe an increasing focus on environmentalism in dating. New York City has even played host to a speed-dating event titled “Love and Climate” to help eco-conscious single people with a mutual interest in virtue-signalling connect.

Now it appears some companies are compelling their customers to express particular views on climate, climate-change and ‘the climate emergency’.

On one popular site, eharmony, new users setting up their dating profiles are required to complete a “compatibility test” in which they are asked: “What do you think about climate change, conservation, renewable energy, etc?”.

However, this isn’t presented as an open-ended question that would allow respondents to answer in their own words, eliciting information about their personality, character, intelligence level, or even their ability to deconstruct fashionable orthodoxy by pointing out, say, that the term ‘climate change’ is too often used to depoliticise green policies, pushing them beyond the realm of public debate and democratic oversight, or that as a Public Accounts Committee report from 2021 makes clear, some 62 per cent of the government’s proposed cuts in carbon emissions depend on the public embracing an ascetic, abstemious lifestyle that will make Instagrammable date nights harder to afford, thus undercutting eharmony’s core business model.

Respondents to the compatibility test are instead forced to choose from a pre-determined list of answers which indicate that they want more to be done to combat climate change, with only one option allowing you to dissent from that proposal by indicating that you would “prefer to ignore what’s happening – it’s too horrible”.

While it’s indisputable that average global temperatures have increased since the mid-nineteenth century, people hold a range of views about the causes and severity of climate change and that in turn influences their opinion about the best way to tackle it – or, indeed, whether tackling it is possible or necessary. Whatever stance one might take on the issue, climate scepticism is surely therefore a view that customers should be free to express when a company like eharmony asks them about “climate change, conservation, renewable energy, etc”.

Harry Wilkinson, the head of policy at Net Zero Watch, which campaigns for more balanced and transparent scrutiny of climate science and policy research, said the increased focus on a particularly politicised version of environmentalism is a worrying trend.

He said: “The green dogma seems to be slipping its way into the bedroom. Many people already put ‘no Tories’ in their profiles, and this kind of question only seems to allow for those who uncritically worship at Greta’s altar.

“What happens if you’re looking for someone who thinks for themselves? Dating can be an exciting opportunity to meet someone with new perspectives and I hope that people will still remain open to that.”

News that major online dating sites in the UK are reconfiguring the ‘choice architecture’ of their online platforms to force customers to express only certain political views comes amidst a general narrowing of ‘acceptable’ opinions on ‘the climate emergency’ among employees and customers of major institutions.

Last month, a top European Central Bank (ECB) official stunned employees by saying people who don’t buy into the institution’s green objectives aren’t welcome to work there.

In reference to existing members of staff, Frank Elderson, one of six members of the ECB’s executive board, told an internal meeting: “I don’t want these people anymore.” On the question of onboarding new recruits, he complained: “Why would we want to hire people who we have to reprogram?”

As Politico reports, the Dutchman’s remarks carry extra significance given the ECB is currently embroiled in a debate ― internally and among Europe’s politicians ― over how much its policies should steer toward making the economy “greener”, or whether it should just stick to its main goal of keeping eurozone prices stable.

Then there’s the relatively recent rise of ‘carbon literary training’ (CLT) in the UK, which the FSU has been investigating.

As our Director of Data, Tom Harris, points out in a recent FSU research briefing, CLT is spreading rapidly across UK offices and places of study, with over 67,000 employees now certified as ‘carbon literate’ according to the Carbon Literacy Project (CLP), the main organisation behind the initiative.

In those companies seeking accreditation as a Carbon Literate Organisation (CLO) – to boost their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) rating – up to 80% staff are expected to become ‘carbon literate’.

The training takes it for granted that we’re in the midst of a ‘climate emergency’ and recommends that employees embrace various radical solutions, including net zero and identify at least one action they can take to reduce their own carbon footprint, as well as at least one action involving other people.

An FSU member recently contacted us concerned about the repercussions on his career after challenging the content of the training and providing alternative views and different insights on the topic. We believe he was right to be concerned and that, more generally, employees may be penalised if they refuse to comply with these requirements because they do not share a particular point of view.

After all, to secure CLP’s platinum, gold, and silver CLO accreditation, companies are expected to embed carbon literacy in the performance targets of staff members and evaluate their annual performance accordingly. This means that employees who don’t subscribe to a particular view on climate change could find themselves missing out on pay awards or promotion unless they self-censor or pretend to hold convictions they don’t have.

Different solutions to tackling climate are informed by different values and recommending one approach over another inevitably involves making a political choice. There is no-such thing as an apolitical, ‘scientific’ solution. Consequently, employees should not be put under pressure to endorse a particular approach to tackling climate change or threatened with disciplinary action if they fail to adjust their behaviour to follow this approach, particularly outside the workplace.