The employment landscape is changing because of climate change.
The future or current working lives of this generation will be, to an extent, influenced by the climate crisis as the world is pushing for a transition to cleaner and renewable energy, sustainability of resources, and better protection of the ecosystem.
For decades, scientists have warned that climate change is bringing more extreme weather events such as heatwaves, droughts, floods, stronger storms, and wildfires that directly affect our lives, infrastructure, and livelihoods.
Predictions of extreme weather events due to climate change are now happening before our eyes. They will only intensify unless we make drastic and immediate cuts to our carbon emissions.
Occupations such as scientists, environmental engineers, lawyers, renewable energy engineers, and sustainability and climate change consultants provide opportunities for people concerned about the changing climate and its effects to make a difference.
In the United States, solar jobs have seen tremendous growth. According to the Solar Foundation Report 2019, solar jobs in America have increased 167% from just over 93,000 positions in 2010 to 249,983 in 2019. The National Solar Job Census 2022, the latest report to date, shows that as of December 2022, there were 263,883 solar workers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. This represents an increase of 8,846 jobs, or 3.5% growth since 2021.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, growth in various climate-related occupations is expected by 2029. Careers like wind turbine services technicians, hydrologists, atmospheric and space scientists, solar photovoltaic installers, soil and plant scientists, conservation scientists, environmental science and protection technicians, environmental engineers, and environmental scientists and specialists will see growth between 2019 and 2029 (Peach, 2021).
The USA Today reports that climate change-related courses are also seeing a boom in U.S. colleges driven by Millennials and Gen Z planning to change or get into careers due to climate concerns.
Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, says every job will have a climate component in the coming decades, from financiers, doctors, nurses, accountants, sustainability officers or policymakers.
The article lists down fields that are crucial to deal with global warming. Some occupations may or may not need formal school training and can be learned through on-the-job or short-term training. The following are the occupations that will see growth in the immediate future:
- Electricians. The country would need more electricians to meet its green energy goals.
- Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians are needed to install heat pumps, a signature appliance of the 21st century that can both heat and cool homes, allowing users to save money and energy.
- Plant Breeders who can grow new crops that will be suitable and resilient to the new climate.
- Building trades will be required as tens of millions of homes would need retrofitting to deal with the changing climate.
- Traffic engineers will be in demand to design roads and paths that are safer and easy to use. They will also help people find better transit routes.
- Prescribed fire technician. This is a sub-speciality in fire fighting where people administer prescribed fires to reduce harm and control a widespread forest or wildfires. These prescribed fires remove flammable undergrowth without harming mature trees, making forest fires resistant. Prescribed fires are similar to the controlled fires used by the Aboriginal people in Australia since time immemorial to protect wildlife, clear pathways, regenerate vegetation, and so much more.
- Hydrologist. With the increasing droughts and extreme rain events, hydrologist help creates systems to cope with too little or too much water.
- Gardeners will be needed to redesign gardens for the new climate. They will know the right plants for the space and correctly install drip irrigations or channel water.
- Disaster preparedness coordinator. Increasing weather disasters require disaster relief workers to provide immediate on-the-ground help for those afflicted, ranging from Red Cross volunteers to highly-trained search and rescue teams.
Climate change is a systemic problem requiring all skills and backgrounds to address it. Most of these jobs or skills exist today, like engineers, writers, builders, community organisers, teachers, farmers, urban planners, architects, doctors, nurses, lawyers and others.
These occupations will need to incorporate climate change into their work to help increase awareness, help adapt and build resilience, and protect people and communities against climate change impacts.
Weise, E. (2023, July 22). Need a job? Hiring to flourish in these fields as humans fight climate change. USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2023/07/22/get-a-job-in-growing-careers-how-climate-change-will-shape-hiring/70433027007/
Peach, S. (2021, May 5). ‘Which climate change jobs will be in high demand in the future?’. Yale Climate Connections. Retrieved from https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2021/05/which-climate-change-jobs-will-be-in-high-demand-in-the-future/
Pickerel, K. (2020, Februarry 19). National Solar Jobs Census: Solar employment up 2.3% after two years of losses. Solar Power World. Retrieved from https://www.solarpowerworldonline.com/2020/02/national-solar-jobs-census-solar-employment-up-2-3-after-two-years-of-losses/
5 Jobs That Help Fight Climate Change. (2023, June 16). Coursera. Retrieved from https://www.coursera.org/articles/climate-change-jobs
13th Annual National Solar Job Census 2022. (2023 July). IREC. Retrieved from https://irecusa.org/census-executive-summary/
Bringing Indigenous Fire Back to Northern Australia. (2023). The Nature Conservancy. Retrieved from https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/where-we-work/asia-pacific/australia/stories-in-australia/bringing-indigenous-fire-back-to-northern-australia/