Climate Action

Climate credentials are a key factor for young Europeans when job hunting, survey finds

While inflation currently tops the list of main concerns, climate change remains the second biggest challenge facing Europeans.

While inflation currently tops the list of main concerns, climate change remains the second biggest challenge facing Europeans. Image: Unsplash/Karsten Würth

Gabi Thesing
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • More than three-quarters of Europeans between 20 and 29 said sustainability is an important factor in their choice of employer, a new survey finds.
  • Hiring for green roles has consistently outpaced the overall hiring rate globally four years in a row, according to a World Economic Forum report.
  • More than half of the European respondents say they would also be in favour of a carbon credit model for flights or meat.

With many employers pondering what benefits will attract young talent, Gen Z job hunters are clear about one thing they are looking for – care for the environment.

More than three-quarters of Europeans aged between 20 and 29 said that sustainability is an important factor in their choice of employer, with 22% saying “the climate impact of prospective employers” is a top priority, according to the latest European Investment Bank (EIB) Climate Survey.

The EIB survey is the latest research confirming that young people are increasingly putting employers’ climate credentials at the centre of their work life – even during this period of economic uncertainty and the cost-of-living crisis.

Figure showing the percentage of Europeans saying the climate impact is an important criterion in their choice of job.
This figure rises to 76% of 20-29-year-old Europeans. Image: EIB

Climate quitting

Earlier this year, a KPMG UK poll of 6,000 workers found 46% of those surveyed want the company they work for to demonstrate a commitment to ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance), while one in five have turned down a job offer when the company’s ESG commitments “were not in line with their values”. Among the 18-24-year-old cohort, this figure rose to one in three.

These so-called “climate quitters’’ are willing to put their money where their mouth is – a 2021 Yale School of Management survey of over 2,000 students across 32 business schools globally found that 51% would accept lower salaries to work for an environmentally responsible company.

“For businesses the direction of travel is clear,’’ John McCalla-Leacy, Head of ESG at KPMG in the UK, said. “By 2025, 75% of the working population will be millennials, meaning [companies] will need to have credible plans to address ESG if they want to continue to attract and retain this growing pool of talent.”

The prospects for those looking for greener jobs are bright. New LinkedIn data in the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023 shows that hiring for environmental-related roles consistently outpaced the overall hiring rate globally four years in a row.

“The green job revolution is much broader than hiring sustainability managers,’’ according to Suzanne Duke, Head, Global Public Policy and Economic Graph Team, LinkedIn. “Be it engineers who can build and run wind farms or managers who can help make the day-to-day running of a business more sustainable, we need to see a rapid scale-up in roles that require green skills if we want real change.’’

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Green concerns beyond work

The EIB survey also shed light on attitudes to the climate crisis beyond the world of work.

While inflation currently tops the list of main concerns, climate change remains the second biggest challenge facing Europeans, according to respondents. Nearly three-quarters of them (72%) say “they are convinced that their own behaviour can make a difference in addressing the climate emergency”.

But for many, governments also have a role to play. Two-thirds of Europeans (66%) favour stricter measures to mandate change. Again, that number rises to 72% of respondents under 30.

Figure showing the percentage of Europeans in favour of stricter government measures to help tackle climate change.
While 72% of under-30s in Europe favour government intervention to tackle the climate change. Image: EIB

Carbon credits

More than half of the European respondents say they would be in favour of a carbon credit model that would “allocate each individual a fixed number of yearly credits to be spent on items with a big carbon footprint”, such as flights, meat and non-essential items.

This is regardless of income (59% were lower-income respondents, 58% middle-income, and over 56% were higher-income).

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Food labelling and pricing

Since food production accounts for a third of greenhouse gas emissions, 79% of Europeans are “in favour of labelling all food products with their climate footprint”.

In addition, 62% of Europeans say “they would be willing to pay slightly more for food that is produced locally and more sustainably”. Again, this is regardless of income (60% were lower-income, 61% middle-income and 65% were higher-income).

Just over half of Europeans (51%) said “they would be in favour of limiting the amount of meat and dairy products that people can buy to fight climate change”.

“Europeans are willing to help fight climate change at the individual level,’’ EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle said. “It complements our role of financing green services such as sustainable transport, renewable energy and energy-efficient buildings.’’

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Climate ActionJobs and the Future of Work
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