By Selene Molina Blanco, Lead Engineer at Vattenfall Heat UK
Personally, as an engineer working in a technical industry for a company relying on technology, it is difficult for me to think of what else could be a green job, and can easily fall into the trap of thinking everyone needs to be an engineer to have a “green job”. But the people, talks and events at COP26 have broadened my horizons, and made me realise not only that a job does not have to be technical to be green but that EVERY job can be green (and should if we want to achieve the targets being discussed in the conference). So here’s a short list of some less obvious jobs that can be green if their full focus lies on solving the climate crisis:
Artists. They make people think, they connect with people at deeper levels, they create pieces with visual and emotional impact that can be more effective in delivering a message than thousands of articles and reports. And we have a very strong message to deliver.
Polar Zero exhibition by Wayne Binitie, a sculptor and researcher working with the British Antarctic Survey.
There are way more green jobs that we can imagine. We have the obvious ones – engineers working in renewable energy, scientists researching the effect of climate change, architects designing timber buildings. But the fight against the climate crisis is not only technical or scientific – it’s social, financial, educational.
Manual labourers. When we think about the future we very quickly go into technology and automatization and forget about the good old three Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We need more people mending clothes, fixing electronic appliances, running second hand shops, disassembling products to recover raw materials to be reused. All jobs which are very difficult to replace by robots!
Thinkers, strategists, philosophers. It requires a level of understanding of the climate crisis and all its angles, but a high level mindset is key to set visions, challenge the status quo, constantly review we are on the right road. They can work for governments, for companies, in academia or in think tanks and associations representing a topic or an industry sector. But they are key to help grasping the complexity of the challenge we have ahead of us.
Film makers and visual communicators. During my time in the COP26 Green Zone I have come across two very good examples of the power of visualization. One was the work of Surround Vision, who had two VR sets for anyone to try and explore an earth globe with immersive films showcasing positive impact projects. The other one was a slide that went beyond mentioning a number of tonnes of CO2, or a football pitch equivalent, and put tonnes of CO2 as a mountain of balls over Manhattan almost as high as the Empire State.
A slide showing the scale of the automotive industry carbon emissions.
Scientists and researchers. On the other end of the scale of thinking spectrum, we need researchers and specialists working on innovative solutions that make the vision happen. Examples of this are spin offs and partnerships between companies and university research groups now working to create electric motors that don’t need rare earth materials that have a huge negative impact in the mining communities.
Of course we also have all the roles and skills needed to run a project, a company, our governments. Financers, lawyers, marketers, project managers, teachers, journalists, can all be called a green job if their focus is on raising awareness and working towards a sustainable future.
I would say we need to remove the “green” or “sustainable” tag from the job titles. They shouldn’t be niche jobs or a specialization any more, as the climate crisis impacts us all and needs everyone’s brainpower. Should we add a target for all jobs to be green by 2050?