Five careers in the environment sector

For those who want to make the world a better place to live in, here are some options in the environment sector

Updated - December 22, 2022 04:30 pm IST

Published - December 18, 2022 08:48 pm IST

The environment has taken centre stage and presents diverse career opportunities

The environment has taken centre stage and presents diverse career opportunities | Photo Credit: Freepik

Somehow, the pandemic managed to make the world recognise the environmental crisis in a way that no disaster or activist could. As the world woke up to the fact that things could go irreparably wrong, companies, multilateral agencies and universities threw themselves into finding solutions and investments in Environmental, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) programmes surged. Climate finance skyrocketed with the World Bank delivering a record $32 billion for climate-related projects across the world! According to Bloomberg Intelligence, ESG assets are expected to be more than $50 trillion by 2050. In short, the environment has taken centre stage and presents diverse career opportunities.

Environmental Scientists and Engineers

Environmental scientists may work with companies researching processes to cut down carbon emissions or to use recycled goods and reduce non-biodegradable waste. They can work with research laboratories on sources of clean energy or microbial decomposition of plastics. Or with policy organisations documenting the effects of global warming and climate change on the earth’s natural systems and processes. Some leading areas in research today include climate change, renewable energy, noise, water and air pollution, wildlife conservation and loss of biodiversity. 

Environmental Engineers with a specialisation in Civil or Chemical engineering work on wastewater management, air and water pollution control, waste disposal and recycling. Electrical and Mechanical engineers work on generating and harnessing green energy through nuclear fusion or solar panels, and on reducing the carbon impact of automobile and manufacturing industries.

Environmental Policy Analysts

Any action that mitigates the negative effects of human activity on the environment as taken by a government, industry or organisation is called environmental policy. For example, a gated community’s rules on waste segregation amount to environmental policy at the individual level. Environmental Policy analysts may work with the government through the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and its many organisations in forest or coastal management, pollution, biodiversity or wildlife conservation. Recruitment is done through the Indian Forest Service exam or through direct jobs.

Policy makers can also work with advocacy groups and think tanks such as Council On Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), World Resources Institute India (WRI India) and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) or with consulting firms like Deloitte, Accenture, Booz Allen Hamilton in various ESG projects.

Environmental Lawyers

Environmental law is a body of laws, regulations, agreements, and common laws that govern how humans interact with their surroundings. While it aims to protect the environment from harm, it also defines who can use natural resources and on what terms. Laws can vary from pollution regulation, the use of natural resources, forest protection and mineral extraction, to the protection of animal and fish populations. Environmental lawyers work with the government to draft laws, run their own practice handling Public Interest Litigation (PIL) cases against polluting industries, or work with companies dealing with environmental regulations and issues. They can also work with think tanks as policy analysts.

Environmental Economists

The focus of environmental economics is to encourage sustainable development policies that balance both environmental and economic concerns. It deals with the economic and financial implications of environmental policies such as the impact of the ban on plastic on small-scale industries. A popular example of environmental economics is the carbon tax the government levies on polluting industries.

Environmental Economists may work with the government, with think tanks and with companies using and trading in carbon credits to create regulatory systems. Carbon credits are permits for a company to emit a certain quantity of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. Companies earn carbon credits by investing in environment-friendly projects and these credits can also be traded internationally.

ESG Investors and Analysts

As investments and new ventures in environmental projects increase, there is a corresponding rise in ESG investing and funds. ESG funds, focussed on investing in environmentally-responsible businesses, were launched in the 1960s but have seen a huge jump in the last five years, with India alone recording an inflow of ₹5000 crore in 2021-22. This has created a demand for investment analysts who can assess the financial and non-financial value and feasibility of these projects. ESG analysts scrutinise investment opportunities to determine their financial impact, sustainability, environmental impact and growth potential and advise investors on the most suitable projects to invest in.

So, for those of you looking for a career with meaning here’s a chance to make money while literally making the world a better place to live in!

With inputs from Kritika Malhotra, Romie Malhotra and Kamalika Chowdhurey

The writer is Founder and CEO, Inomi Learning, a Gurugram-based career and college guidance firm.

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