In June 2017, President Donald Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. The world’s second largest polluter would no longer formally participate in the global effort to mitigate and reverse climate change.
Despite the setback in this collaborative effort, the United States cannot technically fully withdraw until November 4th, 2020, the day after the subsequent presidential election.
Concurrently, three states, 30 cities and over 100 companies (including the likes of Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, and Salesforce) remain committed to the Paris Agreement. By doubling down on their climate efforts, these entities could achieve the agreement’s US requirements to abate carbon emissions by 26% by 2025.
With continued global commitment to curtailing climate change and making the world a better place for generations to come, the future of green jobs looks bright.
Thinking outside the green box
Sustainability is both an increasing concern and passion for younger generations. For those looking to grow a career or make a pivot towards green industry can do so in a litany of ways.
National Geographic highlights eleven of the fastest growing green jobs that include everything from renewable energy to gastronomy. Here are just a few:
Housing and commercial buildings
There will be plenty of green work for creative types especially when it comes to designing sustainable buildings. An increasing base of clientele in both residential and commercial real estate desire sustainable buildings for a myriad of reasons from cost savings to health to ethos.
Job titles range from architects to building inspectors to interior designers. In the US alone, over 1.4 million energy efficiency related jobs exist in the green construction industry.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is one of the most popular green building certification programs worldwide. The holistic rating system encompasses design, construction and maintenance. USGBC estimates jobs centered on LEED certified buildings and green design will grow anywhere from 8 to 12% in the next year.
Mitigating environmental harm largely centers around one central theme: energy. According to the US Department of Energy, the largest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions are fossil fuels at about 65%.
The agency reports the fastest growing domestic jobs this year in the clean energy vertical are wind turbine technicians, solar installers and clean car engineers. These jobs combined account for nearly 400,000 jobs in the US economy.
Agriculture contributes about 16% of the overall global greenhouse gas emissions following energy as the second largest polluting industry.
The food industry is already shifting to cater to a growing health and eco-conscious consumer base. Forbes cites a study that concludes that new food products with sustainability and traceability claims exceed other new food product platforms such as flavor, nutrition and convenience.
Across the board, modern consumers prefer purposeful brands that commit to making the world a better place. Food is a commodity everyone buys. Sustainability is necessary but also a trend that brands can double down on to increase customer loyalty. Evolving consumer preferences will open new opportunities for marketers with expertise in conveying messages of ethical and sustainable products.
The pipeline begins with sustainable agriculture. As the global population grows, our food system will demand more farmers and food scientists to keep people fed with the current resources at our disposal. The average farmer is 58 years old. This alarming statistic has spurred organizations such as the National Young Farmers Coalition to recruit new farmers to the industry.
Sustainable food sourcing will also rely on urban growers. Farm fresh produce will increasingly come from unlikely locations such as rooftop gardens. Farmers will no longer solely reside in rural areas but deliver locally grown foods from within densely populated areas.
Law and policy
Lawmakers and policy experts play an integral role in creating and ensuring a sustainable future. Environmental law encompasses a broad scope of the industry covering everything from water quality to hazardous waste to biodiversity.
Environmental lawyers can work on public interest projects, government initiatives or in the private sector. Environmental lawyers are not always business adversaries but often advise companies on how to comply with environmental regulations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of environmental law will grow 8% by 2026.
You don’t need a law degree to work in environmental policy. Environmental policy analysts and government relations positions in nonprofits, multinational corporations and consulting firms are also on the rise. Traditional businesses seek experts to comply with environmental policies and to incorporate green initiatives into their strategies.
Entering the field of environmental policy typically requires a master's degree. However, the field is incredibly cross functional. According to The Ohio State University, credentials in public policy, environmental management, international relations or environmental science can be a conduit into the field.
New business opportunities
Venerable businesses and entrepreneurs alike should view sustainability as an opportunity.
Despite some setbacks in environmental global cooperation, sustainability remains an unstoppable industry. According to Business Insider, investments in renewables outpaced fossil fuels in 2015 and 2016. Analysts expect that trend to continue well into the future.
Sustainable career trajectories don’t have to focus solely on the environment. Some jobs will focus on green initiatives tangentially. The future of work will continue to incorporate sustainable practices into common job descriptions.
Photo by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash.