Insights on the Climate Workforce

How many people are looking for a climate job? How many jobs are there? What skills do they require? Understanding this is critical for Work On Climate and other like-minded organizations who aim to accelerate the transition of talent into climate—however, to date, no concerted study has answered them, despite lots of research on climate consciousness more generally.

Work on Climate’s new Research Team has reviewed existing research and literature on the climate workforce and identified five key questions to focus on.

What we know about the climate workforce

Around 30-50% of Americans are apprehensive about climate change

  • A Pew Research study with more than 13,000 respondents found that 31% of Americans view climate change as their “top personal concern.” An average of 26% took action in the previous year to address climate change, including donating money, contacting an elected official, volunteering or attending a rally.
  • Three smaller studies, each with around 1,000 Americans, found supportive results. One found that climate change made more than 40% feel “disgusted” or “helpless,” another that 35% were “very worried,” and the third that more than half were “somewhat” or “extremely anxious.”

Young people, in particular, are concerned about climate change

  • The Pew study mentioned above found that Gen Z (here anyone born after 1996) “…is overwhelmingly worried about climate change,” with 37% making it their top personal concern and 32% taking action to address it.
  • An Amnesty International-backed study across 22 countries found that 41% of Gen Z viewed climate change as one of the most important issues facing the globe, making it the issue with the highest international consensus.
  • A similarly-sized study across 10 countries found that almost two-thirds of Gen Z were “very or extremely worried” about climate change and 84% were at least moderately worried.
  • A smaller study on English child and adolescent psychiatrists reflects this finding, with 57% of practitioners seeing children and young people distressed about the climate crisis.
  • According to World Bank data, this young segment of the population is critical to engage, as they will make up 27% of the workforce by 2025.

Demand for climate talent is growing, as climate companies and roles receive significant investment and commitments

  • Demand for green talent will soon outpace supply. According to LinkedIn, job postings requiring “green skills”1 grew at 8% annually over the past five years, while the share of green talent has grown at roughly 6% annually in the same period.
  • Significant early-stage funding for climate tech companies further supports this finding , implying growing job creation. Multiple data collectors, including Climate Tech VC (CTVC)Pitchbook, and Dealroom found that in 2021 as much as $40 billion went to climate tech start-ups. This investment will likely continue to grow, since, according to CTVC’s data, 64 climate-focused venture funds launched with a total of $37 billion ready to invest.
  • Roles in sustainability are also likely growing in governments and later-stage companies, as both have made significant commitments to climate. Over 1,000 companies globally have submitted Science-Based Targets for emissions reductions, and governments’ net-zero pledges now cover 88% of emissions worldwide.

Many organizations for climate jobseekers are appearing

Many of these were founded in the past few years, and we hope more will pop up as the sector continues to grow.

What we don’t know about the climate workforce (yet)

Based on the above literature review, we identify five major questions that we think are critical to understanding the climate workforce.

  1. What is a climate job? While there have been many attempts to define impact2, most studies look more generally at sustainability rather than climate jobs, for which there remains no clear definition.
  2. What skills are needed for climate jobs? Some skills are generally accepted as valuable to the space. Nevertheless, since every industry needs to transition to confronting the climate crisis, the climate workforce may eventually encompass a range of skills much broader than these.
  3. How many people are actively seeking a career in climate? As outlined above, studies show that many people are anxious about climate change, and some show that many people are taking personal actions. However, none look at how many take this personal concern into their professional lives.
  4. What prevents people from pursuing climate careers? No studies examine the obstacles preventing this transition.
  5. What skills or qualifications do people interested in climate have already? Understanding the skills of those who are pursuing a climate career would indicate whether and where there is a mismatch between skills and demand.


Millions of people across the globe are concerned about climate change, climate-related jobs across the US and Europe are growing rapidly, and multiple organizations have popped up over the past few years to facilitate the transition of talent into climate.

Five key questions are important to answer in order to focus on the right aspects of this transition. We are beginning to study them, and we call for collaborations: please reach out to us at research[at] if your organization wants to get involved in understanding the climate workforce, or has data/resources that could be helpful to this mission.

Read more: Ready to Make Climate Change Your Career? Here’s How.


  1. Green skills are defined by Linkedin as abilities or knowledge a worker can use to prevent, monitor, or clean up pollution, and optimize stewardship and conservation of the natural resources that companies use to produce goods and services: “We (Linkedin) included not only skills that people in traditional “green” jobs have, but also skills that people in “non-green” jobs use to do their jobs in a greener way (think sustainable fashion or sustainable investment).” Back to article →
  2. These include Environmental, Social and Governance Goals, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and the EU’s Taxonomy for Sustainable Activities, as well as some attempts to define climate companies, such as Holon IQ’s open-sourced ClimateTech TaxonomyBack to article →
Jessica Burley

Jess works as an investment analyst in a climate venture capital fund, conducting deep dives into key climate sectors and analyzing exciting opportunities. Originally her background is in climate policy and research. She studied Politics and International Relations at Cambridge and worked as a Climate Venture Researcher for the United Nations. She got deeper into the world of climate tech when leading the authorship team for the European chapter of the world's first textbook on lab-grown meat and developed this interest by working at a pre-seed sustainability startup, before joining VC to support multiple innovative climate founders. In her free time, Jess loves learning languages, reading fiction and volunteering as the lead researcher on workforce insights for Working on Climate.