Carbon Counts -3rd February 2011

3 02 2011

The latest Carbon Salary Survey was launched today by Acre Resources and Acona with 994 professionals taking part. Now in its second year, the survey aims to plot the developing climate change and carbon job markets including; job functions, salaries and job satisfaction levels amongst other key indices.

The survey arguably defines carbon professionals as those working in:

• Renewable Energy and Clean Technology
• Carbon Finance/brokering
• Carbon/Climate Change Law, Policy or Regulation
• Climate Change Strategy
• Energy Management and Efficiency
• Carbon Management
• Sustainability

Key trends
According to the survey the most popular areas to work in globally are energy efficiency and consulting around CDM and JI projects (low carbon projects eligible for increased funding through carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol).

Energy efficiency professionals have taken the top slot for the second year running indicating how important demand side reduction is for organisations right now. And as energy prices escalate and environmental taxes begin to bite this job role has a good chance of proving recession proof

On the other hand CDM and JI project finance partly relies on confidence in the broader set of policy signals catalysed by the Kyoto protocol to remain in place and hopefully increase. New entrants into market based approaches to carbon reduction such as California suggest that more of these technical jobs could be required in the future to take these mechanisms to scale.

Energy generation through renewable technologies such as solar, wind and biomass come in next reflecting the excitement and continued growth expectations of the clean energy industry and in the UK particular the feedin tariff initiative seems to have really delivered in terms of jobs if nothing else.

Law/policy and regulation is also very popular and the most well paid of the roles identified acknowledging the complexity of the area and the need to not only understand and develop responses to forthcoming legislation but perhaps that policy and legal expertise can help stakeholders to engage meaningfully in policy development and create more workable frameworks going forward.

Salaries in the sector have risen year on year and 75% of the respondents reported they are satisfied with their jobs, bucking the wider trend of salary deflation in many countries and job insecurity. And we know that there is a strong correlation between satisfaction and productivity, so employers should be pleased.

Further reflections

What is also interesting is what the survey does not render visible. For example following the Copenhagen Accord’s pledge for Annex 1 countries to invest up to $100billion a year to 2020 on moving to a low carbon society, the International Energy Agency released figures suggesting $46 trillion would be needed to take us to 2050, 50% of which would come from adjustments to business as usual and 50% from new investments. It’s the business as usual that I am interested in here, in that as organisations start to treat some of these things as the norm those people who spend time working in climate change and carbon will start to become invisible, in fact they may not even know themselves that they are working in this space. A good example of this is Legal and General Group’s handling of the recent Carbon Reduction Commitment which has been allocated to the tax department rather than the energy manager to be treated like VAT with an aim to reduce it as much as possible. If you ask a Legal and General accountant what they did, do you think they would answer that they worked in carbon and climate change?

So whilst the survey shows an incremental trend in the right direction my suspicion is that it is also hiding a much more fundamental and transformational shift that’s occurring as carbon and climate is absorbed into BAU.

Additionally if we were to look at this from an energy security perspective and ignored carbon I wonder what would happen. My guess is not a lot because regardless of what happens in terms the climate change negotiations and public and leader sentiment around the broader topic, most of these jobs still make sense in a world of increasing demand and dwindling resources.

So does this mean that those climate jobs not focussed on energy that have a longer term eye on structural and cultural transformation are currently being ignored at the behest of the low hanging high energy fruit? And is the growth in technical jobs identified by this survey pointing towards the hockey stick trend required in the job market if we are to meet the challenges set by the IEA?

I guess we will have to wait for the 2011 survey to find out.

Umpteen Questions and a possible answer

13 04 2010

I thought one possible way of thinking about this is systemic risk analysis. The following recent report mainly on the interconnected risks associated with energy shortages (kick started by peak oil) is really worth a read. Its written by the new Risk and Reliance Network and Feasta who have promised many more follow up reports to come.

Tipping Point: Near-Term Implications of a Peak in Global Oil Production

David Korowicz (From the Oil Drum Think Tank) the physicist behind the report gives an overview of the connections between the financial crisis and increasing entropy in our ever more sophisticated complex self organising social systems. Jeremy Rifkin makes similar connections in his latest book, the Empathetic Civilisation.

It also suggested that as a society locked into a growth paradigm the de-growth strategies suggest by Tim Jackson, NEF and others in recent reports such as Prosperity Without Growth are the least likely of possible scenarios going forward. The others are not pretty though.

Interestingly rather that conclude or make recommendations, the report asks us to dwell on the immensity of its proposals and sit with the discomfort for a while. What its saying essentially is that its a slightly more significant task than just changing the light bulbs.



Happy? “I have FOUR colour Tv’s!!”

22 10 2009

CSR 09 Romania, appears, when you speak with many of the attendees, to have been a great success, yet the conference organisers seem to think otherwise. “Why is it these people keep coming to present to us, ignore our request for practical tools and methodologies on specific topics, and simply give us a 101 in CSR and tell us how great they are?”

I would add to this, many of the presentations were generally one way generic communications, made worse by the invasive use of MP4s. For example; the internal communications (and crisis) manager for DuPont Eastern Europe preceded her homemade video presentation (accompanied by the mandatory rock muzak) showing various internally referenced motivational messages and pictures of community volunteering by saying “you will enjoy this”!

What foreign presenters, to my mind, seem to fail to realise (again and again) is that a great number of Romanians are (and for generations have been) incredibly well educated, and they are also quick to grasp new ideas, highly sceptical, and require a great deal more meaningful engagement and debate around the CSR agenda in order to judge its appropriateness for their national cultural and political context. Alexandra and I have agreed to provide the organisers with some Ashridge Consulting style design ideas for next year’s event to help support such conditions.

One of the highlights of the day was a presentation from presidential candidate Mircea Geoană, a very polished Obama-esque, ex Romanian Ambassador, and a friend of Joe Stiglitz, with four years in the US under his belt. His per-election arguments and rhetoric appeared eminently sensible as did his calls for more transparency in Government in response to a question from the money channel news anchor Eli Roman around the social responsibility of central government. At this point faint sniggers could be heard though from an all Romanian table close by. They evidently didn’t believe a word of what he is saying. The word “transparency” in Romania cuts little sway nowadays it seems, standing for more corruption, more exploitation and more self-serving. The presentation ends with a crowd pleasing plea for us help him to develop a framework for CSR for Romanian operating companies if he gets elected (highly likely from what I understand). I worry the word “CSR” is going the same way as “transparency” before it.

I continue to be curious about happiness and included elements of positive psychology in my own presentation on social innovation and business model intimacy (let me know if you would like a copy!). In the cab to the airport, I asked the taxi driver:

“Are you happier now under capitalism than you were under communism?”

He replies “Back then if I wanted a colour tv I had to wait for six months. I got my first colour tv in 1988 and it was made in Romania. If I wanted a car I had to wait two years. Now I have four tvs and a foreign car”.

I repeat “You didn’t answer my question. Are you happier?”

He changes his tone “Nicolae Ceauşescu was a great man, he did everything for the people, he paid off the country’s debts completely so we could become the World Bank to the Arab Nations. In those days I had no debt; I worked less, had long holidays and went to lots of parties. Now we are stressed and struggling to pay our personal debts and have no time. This morning I awoke at two o’clock worrying and stressed before starting my work at four.”

“Would you prefer to turn the clock back?” I ask

“No, not really, but capitalism is not working for us. Something in the middle is what we need.” He said. “I think China have a far better model”

“Funny” I say, “Your presidential candidate said that too!”

CSR Catholicism and the Legacy of Communism – Romania CSR 09

21 10 2009

Dear Ashridge,

Hello from CSR 09 Bucharest

I am here for day two of the event which appears to me to be leagues ahead of the similar event held this time last year. Bucharest itself is having a tough time having gone through a hugely dramatic boom and bust cycle over the last two years with little Government stewardship to provide confidence for further inward investment. Despite this the stunning SAS Radisson shelters all signs of the struggle and we begin day two with a discussion around “Ecological Intelligence”.

The title for this post relates to a dinner conversation I had last night with two local Romanian’s, both highly educated, and both hugely sceptical of CSR and more than that human nature itself.  “Fundamentally we are weak and selfish and CSR is something large companies need do in order to continue to pursue these selfish ends”.

As you might imagine the conversation was quite challenging. If you assume that all people are inherently selfish and individualistic (reinforced here by religious and communist influences) any argument for CSR or sustainable business, unless clearly delivering to this selfish need is a little futile. Yet despite this we continue to find great examples of companies that are doing otherwise. Not in Romania perhaps!

Fortunately a meeting with the Head of Sustainability for Acciona provided a little salvation. In just 15 years (partly driven by the need to diversify into counter cyclical markets) Acciona has structurally transformed itself from a road building construction company to the second biggest producer of wind turbines in the world. Of course, whilst this could also be seen as selfish I would imagine that in 1994, betting this much on renewable energy was a somewhat corageous move!

I look forward to Juan describing this in more detail later today. Perhaps a case for the Leading Organisations of Tomorrow Research Matt??