Krista Kurth, Ph.D.
How to Make Your Job a Climate Job
Updated: Mar 13
No Matter Where You Work You Can Make a Difference on Climate
Have you been looking for a way to make your job more meaningful?
Are you wondering what more you can do around the climate crisis?
Have you been thinking of about changing to climate focused work?
If so, then I encourage you first to explore making a positive impact on climate via the work you are currently doing.
If we are going to keep the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C, then all businesses and government agencies are going to have to look at how they can decrease emissions. This means you don’t have to change jobs to make an impact now. As I wrote in a post in 2020, you can devote yourself to climate action in a way that fits who you are and where you are, including where you work. You don’t have to have an official green job. You can use your skills, personality strengths, and employee power to turn your work into a climate job. And you don’t have to have Sustainability in your job title to do it.
So how do you bring your passion for climate solutions to what you are currently doing? How do you turn your current job into a climate job? The folks at Drawdown Labs, Climate Club, Climate People, and Browngirl Green share some key ideas in their webinar: How to Make Your Job a Climate Job. All these organizations are working on getting as many people working on climate solutions as possible.
How to Make Your Job A Climate Job
Basically, the key message of the webinar panel is to make as many climate connections as you can at work. Many companies and government agencies are implementing climate targets now. You can be proactive in raising the issue about how those targets impact what and how the organization does things, including in your department or role. You don’t need to know everything about climate to act. Jump in and start where you are.
For instance, Drawdown Labs suggests accountants can find ways to align financial resources with climate goals. Food workers can promote foods that are healthy for people and the planet and help reduce food waste. Human resources employees can offer climate education opportunities and include climate action in descriptions, and helping colleagues bring their climate concerns to work.
They also outlined some specific steps for getting started:
1. Identify what you care most about climate and start from there.
Think about how you would go about taking climate action in your current role. To jumpstart your thinking, check out Drawdown Lab’s Job Function Action Guides. They have specific actions people in various professional roles can take. You can also do a google search on your industry plus climate to see what groups are out there asking the same questions.
Look at other resources, like Drawdown Lab’s Climate Solutions at Work guide, online talks “No matter where we work, every job is a climate job now,” “Every Job is a Climate Job,” and Ryan Hagan’s article and interview with Jamie Beck Alexander.Drawdown Lab also provides “access to workshops on high-impact climate action, as well as opportunities for community-building across organizations and the shaping of employee resources.” Other resources listed on Drawdown Labs site include:
o Climate Action Resource Library (CARL)
Make a note of your ideas, strategies, and policies, including how they will benefit the organization.
2. Research how far along your organization is on addressing climate and who is doing the work.
What climate targets have they put into place?
What strategies are they implementing? Are they driving emissions reductions forward, are they just starting, or somewhere in between?
What is your organization’s culture like? Are they open to climate conversations or are they focused solely on the bottom line?
Who in the organization is on board with climate, and who has the power to influence what happens?
3. Reach out to and build relationships with key stakeholders in the organization working on sustainability and climate strategy.
Set up conversations with them to learn more from them and bring your ideas on what would work in your role and/or how the organization could speed up its climate goals.
Speak to them from your heart, letting them know why climate action matters to you. Ask them why they are interested or what matters to them.
4. Talk with your peers about why climate action matters to you.
Use stories (check out this post for 10 tips on how to tell compelling climate stories) to influence them and encourage them to join you.
Bring in speakers, movies, and books to share with and inspire them. Ask them to share their resources with you.
5. Form groups with like-minded colleagues focused on creative brainstorming, identifying leverage points, and instigating collective action. Whether through “green teams,” employee resource groups, or under-the-radar organizing, employees can pull from a variety of teams and skills, promote active participation, and set priorities and goals.
6. Ask your organization to sponsor further education on climate action.
For instance, can you use professional development funds for climate education? It helps if you have done some research ahead of time and can bring a few suggested courses or certification programs to the table.
If after reading this, you decide you would rather invest all your hours at work to scale up climate solutions by switching to an existing climate job, I’d like to support you in doing that too.
Resources for Landing a Climate Job
1. Identifying What Climate Job is Best for You
Read "Why You Should Get a Job in Sustainability. And How to Begin the Search"
Read "Finding your place in the climate movement" section in Crowdsourcing Sustainability’s climate action guide which includes useful frameworks like the one in the graphic.
2. Beginning the Search
Watch this Webinar: Landing a Climate Job
Join the Slack community run by Work on Climate.
Check out climate job boards:
o Ed's Clean Energy & Sustainability Jobs List
o The Bloom
o Green Job Search
o Nature Tech Jobs
While turning your work into a climate job may not be easy, it’s very worthwhile. There is a way for you to use your inspiration, skills, experiences, and knowledge to make a positive impact on climate. I wish you all the best in your endeavors and appreciate your dedication.