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Business / Economics

Climate quitting: the people leaving their fossil fuel jobs because of climate change

todayMarch 22, 2024 16

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Mayuree Moonhirun/Shutterstock

Gemma Ware, The Conversation

As the climate crisis gets ever more severe, the fossil fuel industry is struggling to recruit new talent. And now a number of existing employees are deciding to leave their jobs, some quietly, some very publicly, because of concerns over climate change.

In this episode of The Conversation Weekly podcast, we speak to a researcher about this phenomenon of “climate quitting”.

My name is Caroline Dennett and this is my resignation.

In a video posted on LinkedIn in 2022, Caroline Dennett, a senior safety consultant working at a major oil company, announced she was terminating her contract because of what she called the company’s “double-talk” on climate.

When Grace Augustine and her colleague Birth Soppe saw the video, which went viral, they decided to start looking for more people who had left their jobs because of concerns over climate change.

Augustine, an associate professor in business and society at the University of Bath in the UK, and Soppe, an associate professor of organisation studies, at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, have so far conducted interviews with 39 people from around the world in their ongoing research. Most, though not all, of their interviewees are young people who work in white collar jobs in the oil and gas sector.

One man they spoke to explained the feelings that led him to leave his job.

On a Friday afternoon travelling home, I would feel physically uncomfortable. And I was wondering: why am I feeling physically uncomfortable? I had a good week, I’ve done good work. And then you realise that, you may have done good work, but the goal that you’re working towards is evil in a way; does not align with your moral compass.

Many referred to having a sense of cognitive dissonance – the idea that your behaviour doesn’t match your belief system. And they couldn’t live it with any longer. Augustine explained:

They were increasingly feeling a sense of urgency around the climate crisis … something that they’d thought might be happening ten, 15, 20 years down the line, such as heat records being broken or climate related weather events. They felt an increasing sense that it couldn’t wait any longer for them to leave this industry.

Listen to Grace Augustine talk about her ongoing research on The Conversation Weekly podcast, which also features extracts from her interviews and an introduction from Sam Phelps, commissioning editor for international affairs at The Conversation in the UK.

A transcript of this episode will be available shortly.

Thanks to Grace Augustine for getting permission for The Conversation to use clips from her interviews, and to her interview subjects who agreed to let us use their voices and statements in this podcast.

This episode of The Conversation Weekly was written and produced by Katie Flood, with assistance from Mend Mariwany. Gemma Ware is the executive producer. Sound design was by Eloise Stevens, and our theme music is by Neeta Sarl. Stephen Khan is our global executive editor, Alice Mason runs our social media and Soraya Nandy does our transcripts.

Newsclips in this episode were from PBS News Hour.

You can find us on Instagram at theconversationdotcom or via email. You can also subscribe to The Conversation’s free daily email here.

Listen to The Conversation Weekly via any of the apps listed above, download it directly via our RSS feed or find out how else to listen here.The Conversation

Gemma Ware, Editor and Co-Host, The Conversation Weekly Podcast, The Conversation

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

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