There are good things and bad things about being known as a climate person in my social circles. One of the more odd ones is the way that people (specifically: men) feel the need to apologise to me when ordering a burger in my presence, as if I was personal friends with the cow.
I also hear unsolicited confessions. I never criticise my friends over their choices – that would be a good way to not have any friends. But I guess people feel bad about certain things and want to offer an explanation for why they had to fly on holiday or why they have a diesel car. I listen and I offer understanding. Go in peace and emit no more.
More positively, I get asked for advice on the changes people are thinking about. And best of all, I hear reports on successes: quotes in for solar, experiments with plant based diets, books read and events attended. My favourite ones are when friends have inspired changes at work. Someone who’s campaigned for new EV charging point in the car park, or secured a commitment to offset for travel. Someone who’s organised a salary scheme for e-bikes, or brokered a new recycling policy.
What’s great about these stories is that they demonstrate that everyone has a role to play in response to the climate crisis. It’s not something that will be done for us by government, or by the green movement, or by those who are working on it professionally. To get the whole country to net zero by 2050, every workplace will have to make changes. Every business will need to invest in clean technologies, bring in new policies, and talk to staff about travel and work habits. It really does take everybody.
That means that every job is a climate job.
If you haven’t worked out how yours might be, there’s support available. Here are three different organisations who can help:
Work on Climate is an active Slack community with over 10,000 members, all working on connecting everyday jobs into the climate challenge. They provide networking, access to experts, and have lots of resources for thinking through the unique opportunities that come with your job title.
You could also look at Drawdown Labs, who have developed a series of action guides for different professions. If you work in marketing, for example, the guide points out case studies of companies that have energised customers on climate action through marketing campaigns. They make suggestions around the kind of imagery you might use, helping to normalise greener behaviours. They’ve even got tips on making the business case for it to sceptical bosses.
There’s also Work for Climate, whose central argument is that personal actions are all helpful, but pursuing those same actions in the workplace could have many times the impact. They help to drive systemic change. “Imagine that instead of just switching your own electricity to green power, you could convince your corporation to switch their entire operations to 100% renewable energy? You just shifted the system.”
Have a look at these organisations, see what might be useful, and ask around to see who’s ready to work with you to make it happen. And feel free to come back and tell me about it later.