Former stockbroker Andy Heald had his epiphany… in the office loo. “I was sitting in the gents and on the back of the door was a poster from Barclays,claiming it had just saved £55m by installing energy-saving time switches,”recalls the 38-year-old. “I decided to investigate it further …and realised that everything looks good in the energy-saving industry for the next 20 years in terms of the brain-power and money going into it.”
So in 2007 Heald ended his 12-year stint in the Square Mile and moved to south-west England. After completing a Cornwall College foundation degree in surf science and technology at Lusty Glaze beach – which led him to establish a kite-surfing school,which he still runs – Heald has now enrolled on a full-time MSc in energy,environmental technology and economics at City University in London which,in partnership with London South Bank University and Kingston University,opened a Centre for Efficient and Renewable Energy in Buildings in June.
It is reckoned that more than £100bn was invested in low-carbon energy last year and that,by 2020,the amount invested in helping developing economies alone to cut their emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change will reach $100bn (£65bn) a year.
Tracking how many “green jobs”this investment will actually create is trickier;the UK government claims there are already 400,000 green jobs in the economy,but its definition includes cleaners and waste collectors,as well as renewable energy specialists and water engineers.
However,the prospect of an explosive growth in jobs in newer,greener industries is accompanied by a parallel surge in energy,environment and conservation-related postgraduate courses that seek to place graduates in posts with governments,NGOs,thinktanks,consulting firms and multinationals.
Whereas five years ago most environment-related courses were science-focused,the new crop tend to be more inter-disciplinary. Cambridge University launched an MPhil in conservation leadership last year. Nottingham Trent University’s school of arts and humanities has just created an MA in human security and environmental change,which will study poverty,health and the changing climate,helping its students find internships,and maybe careers,in emergency planning,environmental and economic policy. Likewise,the University of Sussex has introduced two masters programmes:in climate change and development;and climate change and policy.
Others,including UCL,University of East Anglia and De Montfort University,are combining their science-based masters in climate change with modules in business,leadership or politics.
However,universities also report continued strong demand for master’s courses,where science is the meat and drink of the programme;courses such as the MSc in water,energy and the environment at Liverpool John Moores University and the range of sustainability masters degrees offered by the school of earth and environment at the University of Leeds.
Leeds has also just launched a research-led masters in climate-change science,which is built around quantitative scientific skills training.
“At a time when public spending is being cut,research into climate and the environment is in good shape,”says course co-leader Dr Andy Challinor. The course can be tailored to individuals’needs. “One set of choices will lead to knowledge and skills on modelling the earth system – skills of interest to,for example,the Met office. Another set will lead to knowledge and skills on climate change.”
Challinor believes the MSc will lead to careers in research,but also jobs with any organisation that needs a knowledge of the scientific basis of climate change and the tools used to understand it.
Back in Cornwall,Heald has begun pursuing his vision of making a difference. With help from an EU grant,he is setting up his own company,Cornwall Renewables,Energy and Management,to conduct site surveys for wind turbines and photovoltaic panels,and energy and environmental audits. He says:“From my days as a stockbroker,I remember the happiest clients were those who ran their own businesses.”
Taken from the Gaurdian Website on the 29 September 2010
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