On Monday this week, an enthusiastic group of King’s students listened to OV, Mark Meyrick (H 69-70, Cr 71-74) as he talked about the very relevant subject of Climate Change and how this affects us all, pointing out important milestones in protocols and international summits along the way and showing how sustainable companies are becoming more and more popular for consumers as well as investors and then explaining the huge range of jobs that may appeal to the students, which are a product of climate change, sustainability, environmental awareness and renewable energies.
Head of Careers, Helen Airdrie had arranged this informative session with Head of Geography, Simon Cuthbertson. Mark said that, in his own career, after studying Economics and Accounting at the University of Kent, he has held numerous roles working for a number of different companies and he now works at a green energy company, Ecotricity as Head of Trading and Smart Grids.
Mark’s initial interest in the world about him was sparked by his Art teacher as an eight-year-old, who encouraged him to sign up for Junior World Wildlife Fund (WWF). During his talk to the students, Mark talked about Feedback loops: processes than can either amplify or diminish the effects of climate forcings (e.g. an increase in global warming). Mark touched on climate tipping points (e.g. the reverse of the Gulf Stream) and then explained to the students the relevance and what the specifics agreements had been at the various summits, starting with the Montreal Protocol in 1987, the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992, followed by the very important Kyoto protocol in 1997 and the Paris Agreement in 2015. The Kyoto Protocol had been so significant because this is when most western (i.e. developed) countries signed up to reduce greenhouse gases. Mark also mentioned The Linking Directive of 2004, which had been successful in encouraging companies based in developed countries setting up and sourcing projects in developing countries to reduce greenhouse gases.
At the Paris Agreement, attending countries signed up to try and reduce global warming by 2.5% by the end of the century, with the EU signing up to net zero by 2050 (net zero is to achieve an overall balance between emissions produced and emissions taken out of the atmosphere). The UK government has drawn up a 10 point plan to achieve net zero by 2050. Mark shared a fascinating chart, showing the move away from non-renewable sources of energy (coal, gas, nuclear) in Jan 2002 to a more renewable mix of energies nowadays.
Finally, Mark talked about why sustainability is important for business and said that the nowadays people are more likely to buy products from a company who is ‘doing the right thing’, for example, Timberland who recycle their shoes, source their products ethically and give their employees time off for volunteering. Investors are also interested in ethical funds, as are pension providers.
Talking about the types of jobs that the King’s students may look to in the future, there are a plethora of industries that have related jobs: renewable energy companies, banks, solicitors, The Carbon Trust and jobs as diverse as data analysts and marketeers.
Mark took questions from the King’s students and ended his talk by encouraging them to “go to a COP” (UN Climate Change Conference), the next one being held in Glasgow this November, where they can witness for themselves the huge range of organisations attending, from the inner negotiators to all the NGOs outside the main conference and students could volunteer to take a temporary job during the Conference.
We are very grateful to Mark for sharing the benefit of his wealth of experience in this critical area and allowing King’s students the opportunity to learn more about such an interesting subject, about which Mark is obviously very passionate.