Even if we agree climate change is a pressing issue, the problem is that often it is hard to know what to do about it: Yes you can recycle, perhaps even give to a relevant charity or maybe vote Green. But considering the pressing time-limit and the heroic scale of action required, it is hard to know what is sufficient. What should we really be doing to solve climate change?
It is the proposition of this article that for many young people this question should be intrinsically linked to the new values and needs of generation-y in the workplace.
“Whatever your dreams, there is a place for you in the green economy.”
As laid out in the previous article, one of the key traits of generation-y (those born between c.1980-2000) is finding meaning and fulfilment in their job. For example, over four-fifths of Gen-Yers say making a difference in the world is more important than gross income or professional recognition, with 92% believing business should be measured by more than their profits (Huffington post 2013).
Connecting this drive for purposeful work with the pressing issue of climate change is a crucial step in taking meaningful action. Indeed, the average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. If everyone dedicated even a fraction of this time to supporting climate mitigation and creating solutions for a low-carbon world, it would be a game-changer for the pace of progress. What more meaningful work can really be thought of than working on what is in many ways the unique challenge of our generation?
Considering a career which helps drive forward a solution to climate change can bring purpose to our work than is beneficial to our self and to our planet.
This obviously applies to roles directly related to the issue, such as renewable energy engineers.However, the purpose of this article is to show that the challenge of climate change imparts itself onto almost every job under the sun, and in sectors that people are actually interested in:
- Finance: From clean-tech investment to financing schemes for energy efficiency, finance is one of the biggest challenges for building a green economy. Deploying skills from the financial services will be key to coming up with innovative ways to finance projects that protect the planet.
- Advertising: More than a scientific problem, combating climate change is at its heart a for battle public engagement. Using advertising skills to get people genuinely interested in environmental solutions and products is key to making real progress.
- Entrepreneurs: Developing new, environmentally friendly ways of doing almost every activity imaginable – from the transport and energy we use, to the way we consume food – is key to making the disruptive changes needed to avert climate change. Entrepreneurs are needed to dream-up these innovative new solutions and drive disruptive change in every industry.
- Installation services: The reality of a green economy will mean installing and maintaining an unimaginable amount of clean-tech kit, from solar PV on rooftops, to smart meters and appliances in homes and offices. People with expertise in installation and maintenance will be essential for making the green economy happen.
- Politics: We have had the technology to combat climate change since at least the 1960s, the real problem now is mustering the political will to make these bold changes for the sake of our futures. Politicians and leaders in every field will be needed to catalyse change if the green economy is to flourish.
- Engineering: Everything from energy generation to buildings and public transport systems will need to be designed with sustainability at their core. Engineering who understand this will be indispensable in a green economy.
- Computer Science: A green revolution will also be a smart revolution. Using software to automate processes and create ‘smart’ systems for energy, waste, and water will be key to developing a clean and efficient world where we can all live sustainably.
- Law: As the green economy expands, a cadre of lawyers and legal service providers who understand environmental issues will be needed to administer change. There is also a big opportunity here for lawyers to fight against unsustainable practices in the court room.
All of these skills will be needed, and all of these jobs will have to be fundamentally reinvented if we are to succeed. In some ways that is what is so amazing about this brave new world of a low-carbon economy, it applies to almost everything.
This should not be read as an argument for taking a pay-cut either. The advanced energy sector alone is now worth over $1.4trillion globally and, if generation-y is able to unlock the potential of an alternative green economy, this figure could be factors bigger. For those willing to take the risk and build such a world, the prize could be very big indeed. .