The youth generation is brimming with innovators, activists, and entrepreneurs who are not only speaking out against Big Oil and Gas, but are offering solutions to lead us to a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient world. They are a youth generation more vocal and energized than any other when it comes to climate justice, and they’ve been building resources and networks to solidify their messaging and to garner support. Their voices ring out to enhance equity and respect in the workplace, to foster ecosystem recognition and protections, and to promote responsible climate legislation.
New Zealand Youth Generation Wants Adult Understanding & Support
Teenagers in New Zealand want to have their voices heard, and striking is an effective tool to get their point across. They’re also asking adults for support, not condemnation.
On March 3, protesters across Aotearoa will hit the streets for the annual global climate strike. In the run-up to the event, afterschool hours have been filled with committee meetings, incessant emails, phone calls, and climate anxiety, but above all, “an unshakeable determination to make these strikes a success,” writes Aurora Garner-Randolph, a 17-year-old climate activist and high-school student in Ōtautahi in New Zealand’s Newsroom.
The climate science is settled, and their youth generation, Garner-Randolph explains, “is growing desperate.” They see years pass with unfulfilled political promises and unambitious climate policies. They feel their future is becoming unlivable — all the while “we twiddled our collective thumbs, stalled on common-sense policies, and hoped what we had would be enough. It wasn’t.”
Garner-Randolph insists that these tragedies should serve as a wake-up call to the urgency of radical climate legislation. No longer is it enough to assess one’s own climate footprint, to think that “recycling, shopping second-hand, using public transport, going vegetarian” are enough. Sure, these are all tangible and effective ways to reduce your personal emissions, and you should be acting on them. But they’re not enough.
“This climate crisis is a structural issue,” Garner-Randolph argues. “It’s the result of the failings of capitalism and of neoliberal short-term electoral politics.”
These teen activists want the international community to learn from their leadership and to collaborate with them. This year’s School Strike for Climate Aotearoa has 5 national goals:
- No new fossil fuel mining or exploration. We know to reach carbon neutral by 2050, this is a necessity. Corporate greed is the force driving this exploration, and it must be denied.
- To lower the voting age to 16, in line with the ruling by the Supreme Court that the current voting age is a breach of human rights.
- A 30% increase in the area of protected marine reserves by 2025. The current Marine Protected Areas legislation is ineffectual.
- Rebates on e-bikes for low income households. A similar scheme for electric cars has been very successful. A rebate will make e-bikes affordable to everyone, reduce congestion on our roads, and improve travelers’ health.
- Support for farmers in their transition to regenerative farming. Agriculture accounts for 48% of Aotearoa’s carbon emissions, but it provides our food and is a vital sector of our economy. Farmers need to be incentivized and supported more radically to phase out synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, to restore wetland and topsoil, and to reduce their herd.
UPDATE: We reached out to School Strike for Climate for a comment, and received the following:
“On the third of March, tens of thousands of people of all ages will strike around the country. We will be fighting for politicians to take bold action on climate change. Following the devastating climate disasters in Te Ika-a-Māui, we cannot deny the science anymore. We need to take action, and we need to do it now. Climate Change is here and it’s only going to get worse. It will affect every single aspect of society. The climate crisis should be everyone’s main concern.
We can either change now on our own terms or be forced to as a result of the changing climate. We would love to see you at one of our strikes around Aotearoa, everyone is welcome, no matter your age. Let’s send a message that we care about the environment and politicians should too.” – Oscar Compton-Moen
Survey Says: Talent Is Turning Their Noses Up At Big Oil & Gas
A PricewaterhouseCooper (PWC) survey about millennials at work suggests that some companies and sectors will have to work harder in the future to communicate the positive aspects of the employer brand. Over half of millennials questioned (58%) said they would avoid working in a particular sector solely because they believe it had a negative image — oil and gas was seen as the most unappealing globally, with 14% of respondents saying they would not want to work in the sector because of its image.
In October, 2022, dozens of students at Harvard, MIT, and Brown disrupted on-campus recruiting events for ExxonMobil, protesting that the company was undermining their future.
College students are also steering clear of petroleum engineering programs, creating a gap as oil companies look to replace retiring Baby Boomers. Over the last 5 years, the number of people graduating from petroleum engineering programs has dropped from 2,300 to around 400, an 83% plunge
Geographically located in Big Oil’s backyard, institutions such as Louisiana State University and the University of Houston are experiencing enrollment drops in petroleum engineering after the significant Big Oil reputation downturn and with the energy landscape changing. As example, the University of Calgary and Imperial College London both eliminated their oil and gas engineering majors last year.
Hiring For Youth & Their Elders In Fossil Fuel Industries
A recent global survey from the Global Energy Talent Index found that 82% of current oil and gas workers would consider switching to another energy sector in the next 3 years, up from 79% last year and 73% in 2020. 54% of those thinking about leaving picked the renewable industry as a preferred destination.
Yes, the renewable energy industry is ready for takeoff, according to Deloitte’s 2023 Renewable Energy Industry Outlook. Many of 2022 challenges will likely carry over into 2023, but growth will likely accelerate, powered by robust demand and the record-breaking raft of clean energy incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act. Deloitte concludes that the evolving trends and opportunities that follow could help the industry navigate headwinds as it grows in 2023 and set the stage for faster growth in 2024.
The first World Energy Employment Report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds that hiring in clean energy has pushed energy sector employment globally above pre-pandemic levels – despite the oil and gas sector still struggling to recover from big layoffs in the initial stages of Covid-19. The agency says clean energy has now “surpassed the 50% mark for its share of total energy employment” and has the biggest potential for job creation.
Of the 1.3 million new energy jobs added between 2019 and 2021, “virtually all” of this growth is in clean energy jobs, the IEA estimates. Major new manufacturing facilities, especially in solar technologies and electric vehicles, have come online since 2019 and are helping to drive this growth in clean energy jobs. The IEA defines clean energy workers as those in sectors including bioenergy supply, generating power from nuclear and renewable sources, electricity grids and storage, electric vehicles manufacturing, and energy efficiency.
The Brookings Institute finds that many current fossil fuel hubs are ideal sites for renewable energy production. In total, a quarter of the counties in the US with the greatest potential for both wind and solar electricity generation are also fossil fuel hubs. Joshua Rhodes, Carey King, and their colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin translated their research into an interactive tool that can help the public understand the varying costs of electricity-generation technologies in US counties and congressional districts.
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