Notes on climate work

A willow tree in St Jame's park

It was my last day at Design Council on Friday so I’m taking the opportunity to reflect on the past 5 years, taking on work across renewable energy, sustainable finance, circular economy, climate leadership in the world of design and running a summer residency.

  • The administration of climate work matters. The minutiae and administration of every day work is the biggest barrier to a climate mission. If you need a specific job number to code your time against to do climate work, or feel you need training, a business that really cares about climate work will make this possible. A business will also hire someone who is senior, competent and doesn’t have a background in marketing to lead that work. Nobody should confuse the change management inherent to climate work with green hushing. If the simplest instruments are not in place, climate work becomes an extra-curricular activity or falls on a young woman with little decision-power.
  • Check your saviour complex If you read between the lines of the latest XR Strategy, one of their biggest challenges is how they treat their own people. I wasn’t at all surprised by this. In a post-pandemic hybrid world of work, it’s easy to lose people because you become lax about salary, work conditions, routes to progression, training opportunities on your quest to help save the world from itself. But many people apply to do climate work because it’s a job, not a vocation. They expect as much professionalism as anywhere else and will leave quickly if you can’t provide this. Not only this but your climate work isn’t what’s going to save us. No individual company, group, team is going to scale the mount Everest of this problem. It’s going to be everyone’s work, collectively. So I’d love to see CEOs relax and take care of people because even if they leave, they’ll apply the lessons they were taught in their next job and that’s a more powerful form of impact.
  • Beware of information tourism I get irritated by the way social media shapes climate stories. It makes it virtually impossible to have a genuinely collective experience and learn together from what others are going through. It reduces every story to a form of entertainment to which the only possible reaction is ‘Oh Dear‘.  I remember my father watching the Gulf War from the comfort of our own home in Paris, a year after we left Kuwait. He was ‘au fait’ with the events but there was nothing to be done about it. Climate change requires local action to emerge clearly from global thinking. It requires us to prefer to pour over a local act than to digest global news. This has become much harder than ever as fatigue sets in.
  • It’s going to take as much time as we want 2030 is a round number for the sake of giving some of us a runway that fits M&A ambitions, financial forecasts and risk registers. It’s safely sitting at a distance most would describe as ‘futuristic’.  Life isn’t like that and the COVID-19 pandemic proved that we can change and make required adaptations in an emergency.  We bounced back because we were able to recover(ish) but with climate change, we’ll probably never again live on the planet we now have, in the state it is today. It is at its most beautiful today and a little less with every passing day. So I think about the change I know I can make straight away (limit my flying to one flight a year), the change I could make next year (become vegetarian), the change I look forward to being able to make in 5 years (install a heat pump). I just start from the beginning and keep going until the end.

Happy #worldenvironmentday 💚

By designswarm

Blogging since 2005.