Why staff are leaving fossil gas jobs — and what you are able to do if you happen to really feel such as you wish to give up on the local weather

Are you frustrated by your employer's lack of commitment to sustainability? Maybe Climate Quit is right for you. If you are quitting because of climate change, you are quitting your job because you have concerns about your employer's impact on the climate or because you want to work directly to solve climate problems.

If you're considering quitting your job because of climate issues, you're not alone. Half of Generation Z workers (those born between the late 1990s and early 2010s) in the UK have already quit their jobs due to a values ​​conflict. And 48% of people ages 18 to 41 say they are willing to take a pay cut to work for a company that aligns with their sustainability values.

Oil and gas companies in particular are struggling to attract new talent, in part because they have lost credibility in the face of the growing climate crisis. This trend toward climate-related abandonment only exacerbates the industry's talent challenges.

As part of our research, we interviewed dozens of people—including many early in their careers—who left the oil and gas industry because of environmental concerns. The industry is often blamed for its contribution to the climate crisis, making it an ideal case for studying climate exit – despite its own efforts to downplay its role in global warming.

Leaving a job is never an easy decision, and the climate changers we spoke to revealed that they actually enjoyed many aspects of their job. They were paid well, found their work intellectually rewarding, and had opportunities for professional development and travel. So what motivates people to quit their jobs because of climate issues?

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The urgency of the climate crisis

Based on the results of a 2022 survey, people ages 16 to 29 are the age group most likely to be “very concerned” about climate change. Interviews from our ongoing research confirmed this trend.

Most of the people we interviewed spoke about the increasing pace and urgency of addressing the climate crisis. Many mentioned the International Energy Agency's 2021 report, which announced that exploration for new oil and gas must stop immediately if we are to meet our climate goals.

However, our respondents report that their employers' actions and priorities did not align with this sense of urgency about the transition. Some reported that their employers ignored these warnings and even walked back their previous climate commitments.

One of our interviewees said:

I really didn't want it to be on my conscience that I was making the world worse, that I was using the talents and skills I had acquired over many years of study to make the world worse and bring us to the brink of climate catastrophe bring.

Organizational hypocrisy

A study we conducted in 2021 found that many companies in the energy sector are relying on clean rhetoric rather than green action, diluting their responsibility for climate action. Our respondents also witnessed hypocrisy, or a difference between what their employers publicly announced regarding the energy transition and what they prioritized internally.

Some research has found that oil and gas employees can often live with this dissonance. However, the people we interviewed reported a growing sense of discomfort and values ​​conflict in the workplace, which ultimately led them to consider leaving the company.

That's not a big shock. A 2012 study found that workers in the oil and gas industry lose trust and identification with their employers when they perceive that their employers are only pursuing environmental actions or claims to project a climate-friendly image to the public convey.

It is not possible to bring about change from within

Our previous research has found that people often join organizations with the specific goal of encouraging their employers to better address climate change and sustainability by taking on new roles such as sustainability managers. However, many of the respondents in our unpublished study ultimately decided to quit after their attempts to create change from within failed. Some had joined sustainability working groups at work, while others sought to take on roles focused on the transition to clean energy. But overall they didn't feel like they were having the desired impact.

This is likely because most oil and gas companies invest only a small portion of their investments and operations in alternatives to fossil fuels. Therefore, there are few internal opportunities for climate-conscious employees.

Take a climate job

Research has found that oil and gas employees with climate concerns often find it easier to overcome their sense of value conflict and dissonance by changing their own minds rather than changing jobs. But with new opportunities in renewable energy, there are more and more places to go for energy experts.

Our interviewees' career trajectories align with the dire predictions for talent in the fossil fuel industry. A survey of 10,000 energy professionals in 2022 found that 82% of respondents would consider exiting oil and gas within the next three years. Half of those people said they hoped to switch to renewable energy.

If you're considering such a move, there is a growing community of organizations with a mission to mobilize for climate exit – including Work on Climate, Terra.do and My Climate Journey. They offer mentoring, support networks, job boards and training to help people get into climate jobs.

It may be time for oil and gas companies to finally rethink their business decisions in light of employee concerns about the climate crisis and as they seek values ​​alignment in their work.The conversationThe conversation

Grace Augustine, Associate Professor of Economics and Society, University of Bath and Birthe Soppe, Associate Professor of Organization Studies, University of Innsbruck

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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