7 min read

Green Talent – How to unlock a Climate Tech boom

By Abrar Chaudhury and Jamil Wyne. This article is the second in a series based on their Climate Tech Opportunity report. Their first article is Climate Tech: An opportunity to save the planet.  

My students often ask me how to secure a climate job and which sectors are actively recruiting for these positions. These questions reflect a widespread uncertainty regarding what climate or green talent is, and the requisite skills needed for entering this field.

While there is no universal definition of green talent the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) defines green skills as 'knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society'. In other words the skills needed to build a low emission and resilient society and economy where people, planet and economy thrive. 


I faced the same question 15 years ago when I wanted to transition into the climate field post my MBA and having worked as a partner at a leading accounting firm. How would my qualifications and experience make me fit for a field I had no experience in? I took an academic route and embarked on a PhD at Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute. While I learned about climatic science and impacts, I quickly recognised that climate solutions require transcending traditional educational boundaries and taking a multidisciplinary approach. For instance, climate becomes a reality when it touches people, the economy and nature. Floods devastate homes and infrastructure, increasing human suffering. Temperature rises decrease crop yields leading to hunger. Precious development funds need to be redirected from education or health to rebuild climate resilient infrastructure and feed hungry populations. Businesses are not immune to the climate threats, as their supply chains are disrupted through extreme weather events leading to higher prices and reduced margins. Investors want to know and understand these risks. And businesses themselves are a leading cause of climate change, through historically unchecked emissions and unsustainable practices. Overcoming these challenges requires skills beyond climate to other fields such as accounting (how to measure the climate risks), policy (how to build robust policies to achieve net-zero and reduce climate risks), and business (how to build low emissions and resilient products, operations and supply chains). 

The demand for green talent has never been higher and more urgent. So what do we need for this transition and how can we develop the necessary green skills. 

Climate Tech is the answer to these questions. It is a sector that is seeing skyrocketing growth. But our research shows that to reach its full potential, we need more: more financing, more government and corporate support, and more people who can do the work.  


More money

Despite the growth in overall climate finance and climate tech funding in recent years, there are still major gaps in financing. To keep the 1.5 degree dream alive (the goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius) the Climate Policy Institute estimates that annual investment in climate finance needs to reach $5.91 trillion by 2030 and almost $10.77 trillion by 2050. By comparison in 2022, it was $1.27 trillion. 

'Few people realise just how much capital we need to deploy and how much energy and other infrastructure we need to build.'

That staggering sum isn’t just for Climate Tech, but it will be an important part of the picture. And the experts we interviewed indicated that it won’t be enough to rely on venture capital (VC) funding to get the job done. 

When asked where more financial backing was needed in this space, the top two answers were grant and pre-seed funding.  

Support during these early stages particularly helps entrepreneurs who are working on ‘first of a kind’ technology or R&D intensive solutions. These businesses need more time to get to market, and then to establish themselves. That requires a longer financing runway.  

These companies often don’t offer the timelines or returns that VCs typically seek. So, more money from foundations and the public sector could make a critical difference for important climate tech trying to survive its early infancy. Some of our interviewees went further and suggested that we need to think creatively about new forms and structures for finance in each stage of business development, to meet the goals of equitable and effective growth.

More support. 

But to get to where we need to go, money isn’t enough. We asked our group of stakeholders what was needed, beyond funding, to support Climate Tech innovation. 

Over 60% said corporations needed to play a larger role in supporting new companies. Large, established corporations - whether they’re multinationals or fossil-fuel-powered utilities have a lot of capital and power. They can help with resources for R&D, strategic partnerships which open access to markets, and the experience to help new technologies quickly scale.  

And over 50% also mentioned that governments needed to increase their involvement. Participants said that countries can help the climate technology ecosystem in three ways: by encouraging more people to use it, quantifying and dealing with the costs that affect everyone, and making policy that phases out unsustainable technology. 

Some of the biggest climate tech success stories - such as the adoption of electric vehicles in the United States - owe some of that success to government incentives, regulations, and investments. 

In all cases, this added support would help low-income and climate-affected countries where the market and ageing infrastructure may not easily support the scaling up of climate solutions. 

More people

However, for Climate Tech to reach its full potential, we also need to address the talent gap. It cannot be done without more people, people who have the right skills for the task at hand. 

The good news is that these days, there are more and more people, like my MBA students, who want to be part of climate solutions. From entrepreneurs and engineers to architects and community leaders, everyone has a role to play. And so we propose a focus on three strategies to build that talent pool. 

  1. Create an academia - Climate Tech pipeline - There is huge expertise in research and academia that we should funnel into Climate Tech. That might look like entrepreneurial leave programmes, long-term research partnerships and industry fellowships. 
  2. Use existing platforms for Climate Tech - Over the past decade, many job searches and education services have shifted to online platforms. Those spaces can be leveraged to teach climate tech skills and attract talent into the sector. That might look like specialised job boards and training; and partnerships between universities and start-ups to create specialised training. 
  3. Build a pathway for qualifications - Right now, there isn’t a clear framework on what qualifications and skills are needed to work in different areas of Climate Tech. We can identify and classify these, and then build pathways for people to work in these different areas.  

Again, it’s important to emphasise that all these strategies must have a foundation of inclusion and equity. Those we interviewed in Africa, Latin America and South Asia were more likely to describe the talent gap as a constraint to growth - attributing that to brain drain and a lack of growth and educational possibilities at home. Low-income countries and those most affected by climate change must be treated as a priority. 


Climate Tech is a young field, birthed by an unprecedented challenge on a tight timeline. In this pivotal decade, it needs to grow up fast. It’s good that it’s drawing the spotlight, but we’d urge those looking to engage with it to help it to mature. If it receives diverse and additional funding, government and corporate backing and draws in talent, then it has massive potential to help ALL of us preserve our life on this planet. 

An indicative selection of Green Career Options in sustainability


Potential jobs


GHG accounting, reporting, measurement, metrics and assurance.


Sustainable food, alternate proteins, plant based products, climate smart agriculture.


Corporate sustainability, low emission production and operations, sustainability consulting.


Climate adaptation, disaster risk reduction, climate migration.


Green curriculum, trainings, experiential teaching.


Sustainable infrastructure, renewable materials, low emission  manufacturing.


Climate finance, green banking, carbon markets, green investments.


Air quality and pollution, drug development, cooling solutions for extreme heat.


Environmental law, climate litigation, green policy formulation.

Public Policy

Climate policy, Net-Zero regulations, climate negotiations, multi/bi lateral development

Supply chains

Sustainable and low emission value chains, procurement.


Climate tech, clean energy and transport, carbon capturing and storage.


This article is the second piece in a two part series drawing on the research and insights from the Climate Tech Opportunity report. The research was done in partnership by the Oxford Climate Tech Initiative and the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University's Saïd Business School. It was authored by Jamil Wyne (Project Lead), Minahil Amin, Abrar Chaudhury, Courtney Savie Lawrence, Aoife Brophy, and Michelle Lee. Both Minahil and Courtney are Oxford MBA alumnae.