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🕹️ Level 1

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⛳️ Introduction to Level 1

Welcome to Level 1! You are in the right place if you are brand new to climate action, and need a basic overview of terms as well as some questions you probably want answered!

Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives:
  • Be able to define climate tech.
  • Gain fundamental climate knowledge.
  • Browse solution frameworks.
  • Consider joining a core community.
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In Level 1, you will read up on climate definitions, and it is recommended that you read some of the articles that are linked in this level for a comprehensive background.

What is Climate Tech?

The term "climate tech", short for climate technology, is used in two related ways. There is a broad definition and a Silicon Valley-style industry definition.

Broad DefinitionIndustry Definition
Climate Tech is any form of technology, physical or digital, that will help people implement climate change.Climate Tech is a recent financial movement to invest in startup companies that are focused on a solution to the climate emergency.

They are used interchangeably at times, but it is only a matter of one referring to a movement and the other being a physical thing that jump started the movement. The broad definition of climate tech is what we are mostly going to be using in this mini-course.

These climate technologies are focused on:

  • reducing GHG (Greenhouse gasses - gasses in the earth’s atmosphere that trap heat) emissions

The main sources of GHG emissions are divided into the following sectors, or subcategories, which we will go more in depth with later on in this course:

  1. Electricity

  2. Food, Agriculture, and Land Use

  3. Industry

  4. Transportation

  5. Buildings

You have probably heard of clean tech before. What is it, and is it the same thing as climate tech?

What is clean tech?

Clean Tech
The term “clean tech”, short for clean technology, are technologies that reduce the environmental impact that existing technologies cause, as well as improve the quality of natural resources.

These clean tech technologies are focused on:

  • Reducing usage of “dirty” technologies (coal, gas, oil, mining, transportation, manufacturing).
  • Improving areas of natural resources: clean water, air quality, recycling, clean energy

It is important to note that “clean tech” has a negative association with a failed “Clean Tech 1.0” startup period from 2006-2011. Learn more about this here:

Also, ever heard of “green tech”?

Green tech is just an umbrella term for climate tech and clean tech. Climate tech and Clean tech are green tech. Climate tech and Clean tech are different are simply different from one another, however.

What is a climate job like?

Now that we know what climate tech is, let’s dig into what the climate tech job is!

Click each drop-down menu below to read through each frequently asked question about climate jobs.

How well does it pay?

This depends on one thing: whether the job involves working with an early stage startup, an established company, or a government agency.

StartupsEstablished companiesGovernment jobs
Tend to be paid lower salariesTend to be paid higher salariesLower salaries, but offer good health care and pensions
More startups to choose from (Roughly 3,000+ companies and organizations to choose from our database!).You can work for bigger companies once you rack up experience and/or have great networking skills!There can be a higher level of job security, predictability, and transparency compared to a fast moving startup environment.
How can I use my voice as an employee?

You can change the direction of the current company you work for to one that is involved in solving the climate crisis.

Project Drawdown is a framework and guide you can use to not only educate yourself on ways you can help the climate through your actions at work, but how to leverage your climate actions to involve your colleagues and employer.

Climate Voice hooks you up with tools to educate yourself on how to unlock corporate influence for climate, host events for Climate Voice to speak at your company or university, and an employee guide on how to advocate for the climate at your workplace.

Work for Climate is another resource that offers courses where you can learn climate literacy skills, join webinars and expert talks on the inclusion of climate at work, as well as access to playbooks on topics such as Energy and Emissions.

How do I learn the necessary skills?

You can get a climate job based on:

  1. Marketable skills
  2. Domain knowledge

Marketable skillsDomain Knowledge
Marketable skills are skills that you bring from other jobs, such as data analysis, digital marketing, project management, UX, and more, hat can be applicable and relevant to climate jobs.Domain knowledge is the knowledge you have relating to the specific industry of climate tech.
If you already have marketable skills and 3+ years of tech experience, there are plenty of jobs that have the same roles as a non-climate tech company.If you need to gain domain knowledge on climate tech: we built the Handbook to gather the best information on all 93 Climate Solutions from Project Drawdown.

Need to gain experience and domain knowledge? Writing is learning. Kill two birds with one stone by contributing to The Climate Tech Handbook.

How secure are these jobs?

It varies by job category and climate solution.

Depending on the job category--whether it is a startup, established company, or a government job, security varies. Here is a Fact Sheet that details the demand for climate jobs, and which sectors have been steadily on the rise in the United States.

Depending on the climate solution--whether it is a more established solution or an early one, job security varies.

For instance, the highest anticipated growth are in automotive, power generation, and electrical efficiency.

Voluntary Carbon Markets started as a popular solution, but have recently been hit by a round of layoffs, due to public criticism on overstated benefits.

As we continue writing the Handbook together, we will better be tracking news on Solution viability in the marketplace.

How much do I need to know about climate science and politics?

This depends on two things: The solution space and the job role

1. The Solution space

  • For example, a solution involving the electrical grid can get quite complicated. In this case, you would need to already know or learn a lot about the science and politics that falls under this solution.

2. The job role

  • Some jobs and associated skills are more transferable than others.
  • For instance, if you are a software engineer or running people operations, the skills you developed in these roles are highly transferable in climate tech. However, if you work in sales or marketing, there is a larger learning curve, and you will need to learn the particular skills of the industry market you are looking to work in for climate tech.
How do I avoid greenwashing?

Greenwashing occurs when a company or product is presented as being more environmentally friendly than they actually are. Some examples of this can include "embellishing claims about product ingredients, recycling efforts, carbon emissions reductions, or overall commitment to sustainability."

Tech Target provides a guide on how to avoid greenwashing.

CNN Underscored also dissects ways to avoid greenwashing, as well as how to identify it in the first place.


Fundamental Climate Knowledge

If you already know this

The 2015 Paris Agreement:

The bottom line is that we are supposed to keep the global average temperature down to 1.5 degrees celsius.

This would allow us to avoid the most catastrophic impacts.

To do so, we need to cut greenhouse pollution down 50% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.

By 2050 we need to be at "net zero".

1.5 degrees versus 2 degrees celsius:

Reaching our 2030 goal is not likely.

However, we still have a chance of keeping the global average temperature near 2 degrees celsius within the next 23 years.

Our carbon budget:

There are many different calculations.

carbon budget hourglass

One budget from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change states:

  • The world is emitting roughly 42.2 gigatons of greenhouse pollution per year.

  • We have roughly 995 gigatons left if we want some likelihood of staying below 2C.

  • We have 250 gigatons of CO2 left to stay below 1.5 degrees, roughly 5 years.

The global standard comes from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Common myths:

SkepticalScience.com maintains a good list counter-arguments to over 200 climate myths.

One of the most important myths to debunk is the belief that global temperatures will decline as greenhouse emissions go down.

This implies that we can partially reduce emissions and keep global temperatures at a stable level.

In reality, carbon dioxide persists for hundreds of years

We need to cut emissions completely to stop any further damage.

Partial cuts will not work.


Solution Frameworks

Time for the good news. We have solutions!

forest and river

Project Drawdown

Project Drawdown is a non-profit organization that created a list of the 93 top climate solutions.

The list comes from a global coalition of leading scientists.

They calculated and ranked the highest likelihood of reducing greenhouse pollution based on available solutions today.

Examples include:

  • Reducing food waste

  • Alternatives to meat

  • Alternative refrigerants

  • Family planning

note

The Handbook's Solution Page is mostly based off of Project Drawdown.

Speed and Scale

Created by venture capitalist John Doerr, this framework has both similarities and differences with Drawdown.

Rather than a big list of 93 Solutions ranked by gigaton reduction, the Speed and Scale framework uses Doerr's popular OKR system for measuring "objective key results."

OKR Tracker

Here is Speed and Scale's official OKR Tracker

Question Iconquestion

Which framework to use?

Both are valuable and are not mutually exlusive.

Project Drawdown has some more granular solutions, while Speed and Scale has larger categories.

Speed and Scale has a great OKR system that is time bound and uses very specific metrics to track progress.


Core Communities

There are 26 Slack communities listed here.

Some are generalized for climate job seekers, and others are specialized toward roles (climate designers) and solutions.

Here are 3 to start with:


The Climate Tech Handbook

Our community is designed for people who want to level up their portfolio.

We're building the handbook together to show off our skills and knowledge.

Join our Slack

Work on Climate

https://workonclimate.org

Work on Climate logo

The largest Slack community for climate work.

25,000+ members

MCJ Collective

https://mcjcollective.com

MCJ Collective logo

This one costs $10 per month, but is well worth it.

Work on Climate is very heavy toward job seekers, while MCJ also has a strong startup / investor community.

The MCJ Collective are investors themselves.

MCJ stands for My Climate Journey

Podcast Iconpodcast

They have a great podcast here

Networking strategies will be covered further in Level 2.


You did it!

Now on to the next level:

Start Level 2

Start Level 2

Time to pick your climate solution

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If you are actively working on a climate solution and need to...


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