Climate concerns play a growing role in how people pick jobs and how companies can attract talent. More and more people already feel as uncomfortable working for a fossil fuel company as they would working for a tobacco company. To many, it matters what they do and where they fit into the bigger picture – the want to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.
Some might just feel that working for a “bad” company is not very rewarding. Others already actively seek a “green” job (refer).
I see a huge generational gulf between those who have build a career before climate change became a mainstream concern in the 2000s and those who started to work more recently. The former tend to firmly believe that renewable energy cannot replace fossil fuels. The latter are thinking about the best way to make it happen. The former find it difficult to keep up with the pace of change. For the latter, change cannot come fast enough.
There is a also second factor. At my company, Bridge To India, we regularly hire young people. They have very good credentials and could work almost anywhere. Yet they choose us. Why? In part it is for who we are. In part, they are attracted to the field of renewables. However, a third important aspect is that this is a new and growing industry with the potential to disrupt and leapfrog. They want to be a part of that. Sustainability offers a “good” career, an exciting career as well as a rewarding career.
The same holds true for entrepreneurs. If you want to set up your own company, make it a green one: energy efficiency, renewables, resource management, and water offer some of the most promising opportunities of our time – correlating with the size of the challenge we are facing.
And it often makes good business sense, too: setting up a new business in a mature, established market such as fossil fuel power generation or car manufacturing is very difficult. A new business in an emerging, dynamic market is more promising. Look at the plethora of new wind and solar companies that have risen over the last 10 years, or at all the new exciting business models emerging around the “smart grid”, or at Elon Musk’s big bets on electric cars, solar and batteries (refer).