Lindsay Purchase

When we talk about the future of work, we consider the skills people will need to thrive in an increasingly automated world. But how often do we reflect on how climate change factors into employment prospects? 

Our warming planet is a frightening reality to confront. A 2019 federal climate report found that northern Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. We know that heat waves and wildfires – like those seen in recent years in Montreal and BC – will become more frequent and more intense. Some areas will suffer increased droughts while others will see more flooding. 

This will affect where and how we work. Within our country and around the world, people will be displaced by climate change, which will affect the labour market and those individuals’ career development needs. Extreme weather will result in job losses and also have implications for worker safety. 

But it’s not all bleak. As we try to mitigate climate change, many new job opportunities will be created, requiring innovation and cross-sectoral collaboration. Recent climate protests by high school students around the world suggest that the next generation is eager to take on this challenge. Career professionals have a significant role to play in helping students and young professionals with interests in environmentalism build meaningful careers, as well as assisting mid-career workers whose jobs will be transformed or eliminated by climate change. 

This issue of Careering, with thought-provoking articles in print and online, examines the intersection of climate change and employment from many different angles. Articles explore employment trends, the effect of extreme weather on environmental professions, industries in transition such as agriculture and energy, the link between youth career education and climate change, and more. 

Climate change affects us all – and requires us all to act. As you read this issue, I encourage you to reflect on what climate change could mean for you and your clients, and what roles you could play in tackling the challenges it will bring.