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'Small ideas can have a big impact': Prince of Wales and Sir Jony Ive launch green design competition

'Small ideas can have a big impact': Prince of Wales and Sir Jony Ive launch green design competition

'Terra Carta Design Lab' builds on Prince of Wales-led green recovery charter launched earlier this year

The Prince of Wales has teamed up with leading designer Sir Jony Ive to launch a new competition focused on encouraging the product designers of tomorrow to create "small designs that can make a big impact for the world's transition to a sustainable future".

Announced today, the 'Terra Carta Design Lab' is the result of a collaboration between the Prince, Ive - the former Apple chief designer who played a key role in the development of the original iPhone - and the Royal College of Art (RCA), and aims to encourage design students to embed sustainable thinking into their work, in order to help deliver innovative solutions to major global challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss.

The initiative forms part of the Terra Carta, a green recovery roadmap for businesses launched by Prince Charles earlier this year and has won the backing of a host of major corporates including including Unilever, BP, and BlackRock. The 10-point roadmap is named in homage to the historic Magna Carta, the charter of basic rights agreed over 800 years ago.

And, as with the Terra Carta, the new design lab initiative is being supported by strategic partners of the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI), including Octopus Energy, the Islamic Development Bank and Amazon.

"Small ideas can have a big impact if they are supported with the right design, science and engineering and that is the key idea behind today's Terra Carta Design Lab," the Prince said in a statement. "We only have 100 days until COP26, the big UN conference in Glasgow to tackle the climate and biodiversity crisis, and we will all need to play our part, old and young, if we are to change how we look after the Earth, making it sustainable for nature, people and planet."

As part of the design lab, young and emerging architects, designers, scientists, engineers, historians, writers, and artists are being asked to supply designs for products or technologies which seek to address the climate and biodiversity crises, with the designs sought under three key themes: nature, people and planet.

Over 2,300 RCA students - with an average age of 27 and drawn from over 70 different countries - are now being invited to collaborate in multidisciplinary teams drawn from its architecture, communication, design, arts and humanities departments, according to the College. They will also be joined by recent RCA alumni in a bid to bring "real-world perspective and experience", it said. 

Then, in November, a jury including the Prince of Wales, Ive and the RCA's vice chancellor Dr Paul Thompson - as well as representatives of the Terra Carta Design Lab supporting partners - will decide on a final shortlist of up to 16 concepts to be unveiled during the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow. The winning designs will then be chosen in 2022, in addition to being given development support, the RCA said.

Ive, who is also chancellor of the Royal College of Art, described the initiative as a "visionary and imaginative way of helping address the world's increasingly urgent environmental problems".

"Often the biggest challenges demand the most ingenious, most creative thinking, which is why I'm so excited about the work that the RCA students will be able to contribute through this collaboration," he said. "I know that their creativity and inventiveness will develop truly powerful solutions. I'm delighted to be able to support this work both as a supporter of the Terra Carta, and in my role as chancellor of the Royal College of Art."

Global Briefing: Japan set to strengthen national renewable energy goal

Global Briefing: Japan set to strengthen national renewable energy goal

All the top green business and policy news from around the world this week

Japan unveils target to double renewable energy share by 2030

The Japanese government has followed its recent announcement of a national net zero target with proposals to strengthen its reneweable energy goal for 2030.

A draft of the country's new energy policy was published this week, detailing plans to expand renewables share of the power mix from 18 per cent to 36-38 per cent. The new goal would mark a significant strengthening of the previous target of a 22-24 per cent share.

The intention is that an increased reliance on renewables would allow for coal plants to be shuttered, with coal's share of the market projected to fall from 26 per cent to 19 per cent. Meanwhile, gas' share would fall from 56 per cent to 41 per cent, with the target for nuclear unchanged at 20-22 per cent.

The increased ambition was broadly welcomed, but campaigners also warned that the target were not bold enough to put Japan on track to net zero emissions. Sam Kimmins, head of the RE100 campaign at NGO Climate Group, said: "Japan have achieved a bronze medal with their new renewables target. Whilst it's an increase, 50 per cent is what's required for the government to deliver its net zero carbon ambition. There are geopolitical and economic benefits to this move too. Japanese businesses are increasingly wanting to go renewable but also asking for it to be easier and cheaper to buy wind and solar power direct. With their help, we think Japan could not just reach the line of 50 per cent but could go even further."


Angela Merkel admits Germany needed to do more to cut emissions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week conceded the country's decarbonisation track record was "not sufficient" to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, as she reflected on the main achievements and regrets of her time in office.

In one of her last press conferences before stepping down this autumn, Merkel said Germany "has done a lot" to cut emissions, having increased the share of renewables in its energy mix from 10 per cent to 40 per cent, and cut carbon emission by 40 per cent over the past 20 years.

But she acknowledged "what has been achieved is not sufficient". "I am equipped with sufficient sense for science to see that objective circumstances demand that we can't continue at the current pace but have to up the tempo," she added.

She also highlighted how Germany could deliver decarbonisation in a way that "can set an example that others follow".

Merkel's comments came against the backdrop of record floods and an election campaign in which the Green Party is expected to perform strongly.


Shell to appeal against Dutch court's climate order

Shell has confirmed it is to appeal against the landmark Dutch court ruling that would require the company to strengthen its emissions targets.

The court rules in May that the company's emissions targets needed strengthening, following legal action led by Friends of the Earth and over 17,000 co-plaintiffs.

Ben van Beurden, Shell's chief executive, said the company agrees "urgent action is needed" to reduce carbon emissions, but he argued that a court judgement against a single company was not an effective way of driving decarbonisation.

"What is needed is clear, ambitious policies that will drive fundamental change across the whole energy system," he said. "Climate change is a challenge that requires both urgent action and an approach that is global, collaborative and encourages coordination between all parties."


Deutsche Aircraft and Universal Hydrogen ink partnership agreement

Deutsche Aircraft, the recently launched German aircraft Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), and Universal Hydrogen Co. today announced a technical collaboration to advance the decarbonisation of aviation.

"We see hydrogen as the only realistic approach for aviation to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement," said Paul Eremenko, co-founder and CEO of Universal Hydrogen. "We are tackling the biggest obstacle to near-term hydrogen adoption: its delivery and distribution to airports and aircraft globally without costly infrastructure. This partnership with Deutsche Aircraft will accelerate our shared goal to put aviation on a trajectory toward true zero carbon emissions."

The joint effort will analyze the size and integration of Universal Hydrogen's modular capsule technology for hydrogen storage into the aircraft structure and systems, including loading and unloading considerations; aircraft weight and balance; hydrogen cost; mission performance; and the hydrogen logistics network design. In addition, both Universal Hydrogen and Deutsche Aircraft will work closely with regional and federal German government and EU entities regarding the development, production, and implementation of the study and project.

"Deutsche Aircraft is committed to enter the new era of climate-neutral aviation," said said Martin Nüsseler, chief technology officer at the company. "Partnering with companies that share our passion for climate-friendly design like Universal Hydrogen allow us to accelerate our vision for decarbonization. We are excited to leverage Universal Hydrogen's technical expertise to assess the safe and affordable use of hydrogen onboard our aircraft as part of our journey to zero emissions." 


French parliament approves landmark climate law

France's parliament approved the country's new climate bill this week, following months of wrangling over the wide-ranging legislation.

The final draft included a package of measures to accelerate the shift to zero emission vehicles, increase investment in building retrofits, and ban domestic flights under two and a half hours on routes that can be traveled by train.

However, environmental largely condemned the legislation, arguing it was not ambitious enough and would not deliver the level of emissions reduction required to put the country on a pathway to achieving net zero emissions.


Trade body: China solar capacity to top 300GW this year

China is expected to add up to 65GW of new solar capacity this year, taking total solar installations above 300GW by the end of the year.

Reuters reported this week on an update from the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA), which suggested a boom in solar development was expected in the second half of the year.

The group said only 13GW had been added in the first half of the year thanks to supply constraints, but new government policies are now expected to unlock a large wave of development in the second half of the year.

Wang Bohua, honorary president of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA), forecast that 55GW-65GW of new capacity is set to be added this year with average new solar capacity installation expected to reach about 70GW-90 GW a year through to 2025.


Latin America set to defend beef production at UN food summit

Reuters reported this week that a group of Latin American and Caribbean countries is preparing to join forces in a bid to defend the region's livestock industry at a UN food summit this month.

Paraguay's farming and livestock minister, Santiago Bertoni, told the news agency there was concern at some of the international debates about environmental impacts associated with cattle farming. "We have some concerns because we do not see the region adequately reflected in the discussion groups," he said. "We do not want biased decisions to be made."

The UN food summit is set to take place in Rome from July 26 and is another staging post on the road to the UN General Assembly in New York in September and the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow in November, where countries will face intense pressure to come forward with plans to curb emissions from farming and deforestation.

Mercedes-Benz drives forward electrification plan with new 2030 target

Mercedes-Benz drives forward electrification plan with new 2030 target

German auto giant confirms plans for a 'profound reallocation of capital' as it announces it is to invest £34bn and build eight gigafactories in support of its EV strategy

Mercedez-Benz has announced plans to go "all electric" by 2030, as it unveiled plans for eight new 'gigafactories' to make electric batteries for its zero emission fleet as part of a €40bn investment programme.

The German auto giant said that by next year it will have battery electric vehicles (BEVs) on offer in all segments the company serves and, from 2025 onwards customers will be able to "choose an all-electric alternative for every model the company makes".

The company says its all-electric strategy means it will be positioned to make the transition to zero emission models "where market conditions allow".

"The EV shift is picking up speed - especially in the luxury segment, where Mercedes-Benz belongs," said Ola Källenius, CEO of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz. "The tipping point is getting closer and we will be ready as markets switch to electric-only by the end of this decade. This step marks a profound reallocation of capital. By managing this faster transformation while safeguarding our profitability targets, we will ensure the enduring success of Mercedes-Benz. Thanks to our highly-qualified and motivated workforce, I am convinced that we will be successful in this exciting new era."

As well as increasing the firm's range of electric passenger cars, the strategy includes plans to launch purpose-made electric vans and Light Commercial Vehicles by 2025, which will "contribute to emission-free transportation and cities in the future".

The company is also planning to install 530,000 AC and DC Mercedes me Charge charging points worldwide, which it says will "introduce seamless charging without extra steps needed for authentication and payment".

The plans position the company at the more ambitious end of a range of recent commitments from car makers seeking to transition to EV fleets in the years ahead. General Motors and Jaguar Land Rover have plans to offer a zero emissions-only line up of vehicles by 2035 and 2036, respectively, while Bentley said its range will be fully electric by 2030.

The new electrification strategies come in response to both surging consumer demand for EVs and tightening regulations that are set to effectively ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars over the next 10 to 15 years. The UK has announced a ban on sales of new petrol and diesel powered passengers cars by the end of the decade, with plug-in hybrids to then be phased out from 2035. Similarly, the EU's recently announced new climate package proposes tightening emissions standards for new cars and vans over the next 15 years ahead of a de facto ban on new internal combustion engine cars and vans from 2035.

Mercedes-Benz said that to support its new strategy it will require battery capacity of more than 200GWh, which will be delivered by eight new 'gigafactories'  that are set to be developed alongside the company's international partners. The new factories would come in addition to an already planned network of nine plants dedicated to building battery systems.

The firm said its next generation batteries will be highly standardised and suitable for use in more than 90 per cent of all Mercedes-Benz cars and vans while being flexible enough to offer "individual solutions to all customers".

Mercedes-Benz said it intends to team up with new European partners to develop and efficiently produce future cells and modules, a step which ensures that Europe remains "at the heart of the auto industry even in an electric era".

The new strategy will put "planning, development, purchasing and production under one roof", the firm said, including through the newly announced acquisition of UK-based electric motor company YASA, which has developed axial flux motor technology and expertise for the next generation of ultra high-performance motors.

The auto giant's electrification plans will also see greater investment in China - the world's largest EV market - which Mercedes-Benz said is "home to hundreds of companies and suppliers specialised in EV components and software technologies".

"The transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles is feasible and already underway," the company added.

Move fast and fix things

Move fast and fix things

The climate crisis is worsening and the welcome focus on long term goals can not distract from the need to act right now

There's a focus in climate policy circles on how to do the hard stuff. How to decarbonise aviation and shipping. How to build zero carbon industrial clusters. How to phase out gas boilers. How to maintain public and political support while all this is done.

This is understandable. Unless we overcome these big complex challenges temperatures will keep rising, regardless of any progress we make in other areas. Plus humans are instinctively restless and inquisitive. If we feel one part of a problem is even partially resolved there is a temptation to move onto the next challenge. For many people, and arguably politicians in particular, a hypothetical conundrum in the 2030s is a lot more interesting to wrestle with than a mundane planning problem in the here and now.

But there is a risk here. Because - and it feels like this should be obvious - we also need to do more, faster, now.

Yesterday a genuinely terrifying report detailed how the global oil and gas industry is indulging in a game of mutually assured destruction where it is all of us that are at risk of ending up destroyed. Despite the welcome talk of net zero targets and diversification in parts of the industry, exploration plans are continuing to be green lit and the sector as a whole is on track to burn through its carbon budget for a 1.5C world by 2037.

As the IEA similarly warned earlier this week, global emissions are rising again, are set to hit record levels by 2023, and the chance provided by the pandemic to put the world on a path to net zero emissions is being squandered.

Meanwhile, the Saudi government is effectively declaring war on the atmosphere and talking openly about drilling every last molecule of its oil and gas.

The only hope at this point is to destroy demand for those molecules as fast as humanly possible. To prove the wisdom of a previous Saudi oil minister, who wisely noted that "the stone age didn't end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil".

And yet, as a separate analysis from BloombergNEF this week detailed, surging investment in clean energy infrastructure - largely focused on wind and solar capacity - is still at levels that are between a half and a third of what is required. Currently investment stands at around $1.7tr a year and while there is significant uncertainty over how the transition will play out between $3.1tr and $5.1tr is likely to be needed.

The need to tackle the really hard parts of the decarbonisation challenge will come soon enough, but for now the absolute priority has to be building out the clean infrastructure that we know is cost competitive and effective as swiftly as physically possible. That means wind and solar capacity, batteries, energy efficiency upgrades, and electric vehicles (which we now know are cheaper than petrol and diesel vehicles).

Those businesses and governments with the deepest pockets need to move first and fastest. They need to throw everything possible at destroying fossil fuel demand. They must invest in the low carbon infrastructure that works now, so as to create the space and the market signals for the technological moonshots that we need to come online in the 2030s.

Decarbonising heavy industry and transport is hard. Transforming every home on the planet is hard. Working out how to operate a near fully renewables-reliant grid is hard. Retiring a fossil fuel industry that has dominated the global economy for centuries is really hard.

But building out cost competitive and popular technologies that are proven to work? Investing in infrastructure that saves people money? Well, that's hard too, but it should be the relatively easy part of this grand endeavour.

Ministers and business leaders are quibbling over policies and investments that amount to a rounding error in national and corporate accounts, while parts of the oil industry threaten to drill us all into an oblivion of rolling climate crises. With 100 days to go to COP26, the failure of governments, businesses, and indeed all of us, not to move faster in deploying the technologies that we know work and we know we need is both a travesty and a tragedy.

A version of this article originally appeared in the BusinessGreen Overnight Briefing newsletter, which is available to all BusinessGreen subscribers.

​​Inside the war for ESG talent

​​Inside the war for ESG talent

Joel Makower investigates the intensifying competition for sustainability talent

It's a good time to be an ESG professional. A very, very good time.

The demand for analysts, strategists and others knowledgeable about environmental, social and governance issues has never been higher - far more than the current supply of qualified humans. And therein lies a challenge to the growth of sustainability and climate solutions.

It's one of those be-careful-what-you-wish-for moments.

Demand for ESG experts is booming across professional services, including at finance and investment firms, management consultancies, boutique advisory firms and real estate companies as well as NGOs and business associations - not to mention the thousands of companies that are all but required to compile and report their ESG data to any of a broad range of stakeholders, then align their strategies, relationships and operations accordingly.

It's an all-hands-on-deck situation. The problem is that there simply aren't enough hands, especially those with the skills needed to meet the moment.

Or, in the words of Robert Bischof, "There is a war for talent."

Bischof should know. As senior partner, managing director and European ESG leader at Strategy&, PwC's strategy consulting group, he's on the frontline of this battle. Last month, PwC announced a head-turning $12bn plan to create 100,000 net new jobs in ESG by 2026, a 36 per cent bump over the firm's current employee base of 284,000. PwC's largest competitors - Deloitte, EY, KPMG, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group and others - are also ramping up their ESG hiring, albeit with less-ambitious goals.

"At the moment, there's probably not enough talent out there that all these firms could recruit," Bischof told me last week. "So, it will be a mixture of recruiting talent but also then developing the talent further for what is needed by our clients.

"The dynamics around ESG - how the topic has accelerated over the past 1.5 years - this is something that caught us a little by surprise, to be honest."

As Bischof notes, the world of ESG grew up much faster than most observers would have imagined, as it became a front-burner issue across many sectors globally. And the field has gotten increasingly sophisticated: In a relatively short time, ESG jobs have expanded from data collection and dissemination to the need for business strategy in which ESG considerations are front and center.

The term ESG has also become conflated with "sustainability" in some circles, particularly in Europe, where ESG no longer refers primarily to meeting the data and reporting needs of financial markets and other stakeholders. (In the United States, the term remains largely distinct from sustainability, referring primarily to finance-related activities, although that is starting to change.) This blurring of terminology makes data about the growth of ESG-labeled jobs difficult to compile and assess.

Data aside, there's no question that the field of ESG is maturing and that finding qualified personnel is becoming harder.

"We've traveled a journey from mid-ranking individuals who can coordinate data to someone who can lead a whole team and who needs to be sophisticated enough to be able to deal with multiple different types of stakeholders and really understand the world of business, the world of strategy, the world of finance and the world of regulation," Richard Mattison, chief product officer for ESG at S&P Global, explained. "And those people are rare."

The dearth of ESG talent already is having an impact in some sectors. "A skills shortage is preventing real assets investors from achieving their environmental, social and governance goals, according to a survey by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets," reported the website Infrastructure Investor. That was about 18 months ago. Given the skyrocketing interest in ESG, that gap has likely grown.

Another survey, conducted in 2020 by the CFA Institute, found a clear mismatch in supply and demand for ESG professionals within the finance sector. An analysis of the LinkedIn profiles of one million investment professionals found that only one per cent listed sustainability-related skills. Meanwhile, about six per cent of more than 10,000 LinkedIn investment-related job postings sought candidates with those very skills.

Higher-order tasks

The battle for ESG talent is taking place at all levels. There are the entry-level positions, of course — a small army of mostly young professionals able to mine and crunch numbers and other information about companies' ESG commitments, practices and performance.

But those jobs are quickly taking on higher-order tasks and responsibilities, as S&P's Mattison explained: "We're looking for people who understand metrics and data and can do analysis and can build products around analytics and data for sustainability with intellectual rigor, analytical rigor and high ethics and credentials."

But that's just a start, he told me. "What's happening is that it's gradually progressed from that position to someone who's actually starting to lead efforts within a company to coalesce and coordinate; to someone who's moving the company from spreadsheets to systems; to someone who's now leading the company from the perspective of, for example, understanding what your investors want and how you need to position your reporting and your strategy; to someone who is driving capital allocation within a company, who also knows about ESG and investors, and who can drive sustainable outcomes and is senior enough to get the attention of the board."

ERM, which provides environmental, health, safety, risk and social consulting services, is similarly ramping up its ESG services. It will add around 160 jobs this year in North America across its ESG and climate-specific advisory, which includes such things as scenario analysis, greenhouse gas inventories, net-zero roadmaps and compliance with the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures. According to Cora Lee Mooney, the firm's North America service lead, attracting talent at senior levels has been relatively easy. "It's more about retaining talent where I've got the battle wounds," she explained.

Those wounds come from the poaching of talent that seems to be prevalent in ESG and sustainability these days. "Everybody wants someone with experience and the average number of years of experience with ESG is so low," she said. "Less-mature industries are trying to get junior people for very senior roles."

Meanwhile, those with a modicum of ESG experience "are getting 40 percent pay increases dangled in front of them," she noted.

Aron Cramer knows this well. BSR, the "just and sustainable" business group he runs, is on its own growth spurt, with 30 new hires in the first half of 2021, and has had its staffers poached by others, including its own member companies. "There's a land grab on for good people right now, because the day we all hoped would be here is here: Everyone and their brother and sister is interested in sustainability and ESG."

"This is really serious," said Ellen Weinreb, whose sustainability-focused recruiting firm, the Weinreb Group, is ground zero for much of this action. "I'm seeing consulting firms losing talent to clients. As a recruiter in this space, our job candidates are getting counteroffers and competing offers. They're talking to multiple employers and interviewing for multiple jobs. Instead of candidates getting one step up, they're getting two steps up - they're getting like a double promotion."

Salaries are getting stepped up, too, as you'd expect with a supply-demand imbalance. Candidates BSR is pursuing often have multiple offers. "When we talk to someone who has two offers, that's an anomaly," Cramer said. "A lot of the time there are people with three and four offers, because there's just so much interest and organisations are working hard to catch up and staff up. So, we're hiring and we're growing. But so is the whole world."

Actual compensation ranges are challenging to come by, given the broad disparity among industries, job levels and geographies. Also frustrating is that almost none of the roughly 8,500 ESG-related jobs listed on LinkedIn - across Europe, the Middle East and AfricaAsia-Pacific; and the United States - lists salary information.

Another challenge: the lack of standardization of what people in ESG jobs actually do and how to assess job candidates against standard criteria. That's making the recruitment process harder.

"Just like with anything that's new, since there aren't specific qualifications, it is harder and takes longer to evaluate talent," said ERM's Mooney. "It's not like, ‘Oh, you have a mechanical engineering degree. I know where you went to school, so I know what you know.' It's harder to judge who's legit and who isn't. It takes longer to hire a partner for ESG because you have to do a lot of digging to find out what they really know and what their experiences are, because it's really easy for them to find the right buzzwords."

Four winning qualities

So, what are recruiters and HR departments looking for, and how are they assessing candidates' credentials and experience? There's no one way, but after my conversations with a half-dozen experts, a picture is emerging. Here are four qualities that are valued:

Business experience: "We have a lot of candidates who are right out of college, but we are looking for people who have some business experience in order to quickly train them up," said Mooney. "The training time has shortened significantly as well, just because we're growing so quickly."

"We need people who have come up in business without a focus on sustainability to get smarter on sustainability on ESG," said Cramer. "There's an awful lot of people in business who are very good, very smart, understand product development, marketing, supply-chain operations, who need to become ESG experts themselves. So that's a starting point."

Adaptive and critical thinking: "When we assess people with these types of roles, and we look at agility, we look at people who are comfortable not always having the answer and psychologically comfortable holding seemingly paradoxical ideas," said Andrew Lowe, a partner in the Global Corporate Affairs practice for Korn Ferry, the global organisational consulting firm.

"People who are good critical thinkers and understand what rigor is - that's the skill that we look for in somebody who's a junior-level person," said Mooney. "We can't teach that or facilitate more of that. Because this industry evolves so quickly, so you just need to be somebody who can keep up."

A multidisciplinary and systems perspective: That may be implicit from much of the above, but it bears calling out. Expertise in sustainability, or even in finance, may take a backseat to being able to view the world from multiple perspectives, to connect the dots among disciplines and cultures. "We're asking people to focus on what someone could do, rather than what they've done," said Lowe. "The nature of ESG and sustainability is as much about influence, education, persuasion, resilience and facilitation."

"One of the essential features of someone who can be successful in this work is to see a broad range of perspectives," said Cramer. "And so people who may come from more of a purely environmental background or a [diversity, equity and inclusion] background or corporate governance background, who can bring those skills to bear inside a company, even if they've never been in business before."

S&P's Mattison agrees. "We need people that are going to reflect that it's not just purely the hard-nosed financial analysis that we're looking for, it's also being able to understand the linkages between what is driving value. What we find ourselves doing is hiring people who have adjacent skills, which are not directly sustainability, but maybe they have some experience in other areas that we can train people, or take people from sustainability courses at the entry level and train them up to do analytics and things like that."

Passion: Last, but not least. For all of the tangible financial and performance metrics that undergird most sustainability jobs, it still seems to be a hearts-and-minds profession. "You have to be philosophically in the right place to be interested," Mattison explained. "You still have to have a belief system that a better world is possible."

"ESG is different compared to say, digitalization or your other big waves or topics in that the people themselves care about it," said PwC's Bischof. "ESG is also about an attitude, about personal conviction, to do good and to contribute in some way. In the war for ESG talent, it is not only about technical skills but also about an attitude; you could call it a passion. This, we believe, is very important."

So, in sum: Ideal candidates are systems-thinking multidisciplinarians comfortable with ambiguity who have business experience, an ability to connect the dots and want to make the world a better place. A tall order in any job market, let alone a competitive one.

Can we win the war?

Everyone I spoke to agreed that this moment is but a bump in the road, that the supply-demand imbalance will work itself out, as it almost always does in a market economy. But it will take time.

"Things go in cycles," said BSR's Cramer. "And there are peaks and valleys. I think we're at a peak right now. I don't think it will remain as white-hot as it is right now."

Still, he adds, "Assuming that the demand remains strong, this is a five-year thing. You can't flip the switch overnight. We need to see generations of people coming out of business schools make their way not only into business but then advance within business. We need to see that baseline of talent already inside companies get more steeped in ESG. So, these are transitions that take time."

Eventually, of course, the whole notion of ESG professionals will likely fold into company operations, perhaps disappearing as discrete job titles, as Korn Ferry's Andrew Lowe explained.

"What happens here is that we see all these new jobs, all these new titles, and eventually you're no longer an ESG analyst, you're just an analyst and ESG is not a thing, it's just part of the landscape. This is a journey that we are on over the next five to 10 years, rather than there being a quick fix, because it's as much about culture and operating models and mindsets as it is about the people who actually have the skill sets to do the job. And those are all big, complicated, gnarly beasts to wrestle."

I invite you to follow me on Twitter, subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz, from which this was reprinted, and listen to GreenBiz 350, my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy.

This article first appeared at

Generate Capital gets $2bn boost for 'sustainable infrastructure' projects

Generate Capital gets $2bn boost for 'sustainable infrastructure' projects

Green infrastructure-as-a-service specialist secures major cash injection

Even amid the truly serious money flowing into climate tech and sustainable infrastructure, the $2bn infusion disclosed by Generate Capital earlier this week is truly stratospheric. Especially considering that over the past seven years, it raised a total of $1.4bn in equity.

The new money will go toward sustainable infrastructure projects, particularly those addressing systemic investments related to energy, waste, water and transportation - although agriculture and smart cities are a growing area of interest, Generate CEO and co-founder Scott Jacobs told me earlier this week.

"We will not get to the scale that we need, given the scale of the problem, if we rely on government funding or altruism," he said.

Generate - co-founded by Jigar Shah, now director of the Department of Energy loan program - touts an "infrastructure as a service" approach, under which it helps corporations and communities invest in climate tech over time, decreasing the capital expenditures typically associated with these projects. So, for example, a company seeking to invest in on-site clean energy might work with Generate to deploy community solar projects or a city might work with the firm to address its wastewater processing needs.

It offers a variety of financial models, from debt to equity, which differentiates it from other investment firms in the climate tech space, according to Jacobs.

"In infrastructure, stakeholder alignment is extremely challenging when you consider all of the various needs customers, communities, investors, regulators, suppliers and developers have," said Helena Olin, head of infrastructure and real assets at Swedish national pension fund AP2, one of Generate's investors.

The new equity round was led by the San Francisco-based firm's existing institutional investors AustralianSuper and QIC but also included new money from Harbert Management Corporation, Aware Super and CBRE Caledon. Generate's backers hail from Australia, Canada, Europe and the U.S.  

Over its lifetime, Generate has built a portfolio of sustainable infrastructure assets that are worth more than $2bn, and it officially counts more than 1,000 corporate, municipal, academic and nonprofit customers. (Unofficially, it has way more than that.) Existing projects such as the 23 community solar projects it's building with Starbucks or the zero-emissions forklifts it's deploying for Walmart or the organic waste management systems it's building with Storm Fisher could prevent more than 43 million metric tons of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere, according to Generate's press release about the funding.

While energy accounts for about half of Generate's existing asset base (followed by transport and water/waste), water will be a particularly important area of focus in the future, Jacobs acknowledged. The difficulty is that few market-based mechanisms for pricing water exist today, Jacobs said, making it challenging to make the financial case for some projects.

"In general, climate change is certainly having an effect on the way that water comes down to the earth and gets collected," he noted. "... There is quite a bit of opportunity."

Speaking of big funding aspirations, you should also keep your eyes on growth equity firm General Atlantic, which last week formed a venture called BeyondNetZero to focus on climate tech for a range of applications including energy efficiency, resource conservation, emissions management and decarbonization of industrial processes and supply chains. The company is raising $4 billion to address these segments, according to a report by Axios.

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