The rise of 'climate quitting': consciously resigning to save the climate

With the (largely frustrating) climate summit in Dubai in mind, the trend of climate quitting is also noticeable. In other words, more and more young people are quitting their current jobs to work toward a sustainable future. How big is this trend?

Victoria Egba on January 02, 2024 Average reading time: 4 min
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The rise of 'climate quitting': consciously resigning to save the climate

Would you like to contribute to an increasingly warmer future worldwide? Or commit yourself to a more sustainable planet? Want to contribute to the problem of climate change? Or become part of the solution? If you ask young people, more and more people are choosing the latter. It is so much that a term has already been coined: ‘ climate quitting‘. It is a kind of superlative of quiet quitting and refers to young people who want to find meaning in their work again by working for a better (sustainable) world instead of against it.

Be part of the problem? Or just work on the solution? More and more young people prefer to choose the latter.

The term has been known for almost a year but became popular again recently. Now that a climate summit has taken place in Dubai, of all places, oil interests appear to play a major role more than ever before. It also echoes research from CCS marketplace Supercritical, which found that 35% of (UK) employees said they would be willing to quit their job if their employer took little climate action. This figure rises to 53% for employees of Generation Z. Additionally, recent research by former Unilever CEO Paul Polman shows similar figures.

Carbon capture

One company responding to this is, for example, Dutch-Scandinavian Paebbl, which aims to supply carbon-negative building materials. For example, Forbes recently published an article about how much this company contributes to carbon capture. Part of Paebbl’s strategy to achieve rapid growth is to build teams where the best talent can be found. Because of this, the company has chosen to select Rotterdam as an R&D centre. Now, it has attracted engineers and operators who previously worked at companies such as ExxonMobil, LyondellBasell, Total Energies, Shin-Etsu and Union Platinum.

Paebbl-team-in-Rotterdam-2-640x404

“More and more talent from traditional industries is transitioning to sectors focused on sustainability,” said Arnold Choi, VP of Engineering. “The expertise that comes from these large-scale, capital-intensive, heavy industries can help small, innovative start-ups like us solve many practical problems. These experienced professionals bring a wealth of knowledge and skills, which has enabled Paebbl to achieve what many considered impossible.” The company expects to double the number of employees by the end of next year.

Climate as an opportunity

Paebbl’s story fits the trend where climate is increasingly seen as an opportunity for business. Sustainable companies are focusing on locations where a lot of fossil industry is currently located in the hope of being able to source talent there. According to the International Labor Organization, 24 million jobs will be created worldwide in the sustainable sector by 2030 (with the right policies). “Investing in green energy or technology, for example, is a mega opportunity – especially in the long term,” says Simon Mundy, author of the book Race for Tomorrow, and a lot of talent appears to want to be part of that.

‘Quitter sounds a bit negative. If you consciously choose for the climate, I think that is actually a positive thing.’

For Annemiek Nusmeijer, owner of Greenjobs.nl, the climate quitting phenomenon is nothing new. When she took over the sustainable vacancy platform in 2019, climate-loving job seekers immediately applied in mass, she says. ‘From the moment I started, I was told: hallelujah, finally a place where you can find a job with positive impact! Just like vegetarians who are excited about more vegetarian options in the supermarket.’ Although she prefers to talk about ‘climate starters ‘:’ Quitter sounds a bit negative. But if you consciously choose for the climate, I think that is actually a positive thing.’

Frustrated young people

It also ties in with what BCG CEO Rich Lesser recently stated in the FD in response to the question of why the consultancy firm had called on climate activists to come and work for them. “Some activists are very anti-business,” Lesser said. ‘With the exception of a few, I don’t think they want to come to BCG. But I think there are many passionate young people who want to make a difference who are frustrated by the slow pace of needed change. We are looking for them, and I think they know where to find us.’

BCG CEO Rich Lesser: ‘There is nothing wrong with demonstrating and protest signs.’

There is nothing wrong with demonstrating and protest signs, he also says. ‘But I believe that people who come to work with us for a number of years also develop the capabilities to initiate change by helping companies become more sustainable more quickly.’

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