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Green collar jobs: Louise Clark – championing our role at COP26

In this green collar jobs story, we talk to Louise Clark who’s our Senior Policy Manager for COP26. National Grid is a Principal Partner of the global climate change summit. She tells us about how she ended up in the energy sector, her regal eco hero and why we’re at a climate change crossroads.

I’m working on the biggest climate change summit on the planet; National Grid is a Principal Partner of COP26, which is being held in Glasgow this November. I’m leading our COP26 strategy, positioning and engagement, working closely with lots of colleagues across the UK and US to deliver our plans. Our over-arching aim is to help make COP26 a success, so that action is taken globally to achieve a greener future. We have lots of exciting plans and content coming out about it over the next few months.

From theology to climate change

I studied theology at university – not a typical choice for someone who ends up in the energy sector. I was very interested in history, philosophy, ethics and particularly the ethics of religion, so I saw theology as a way to combine all those elements. Despite being a fairly niche subject, I loved it and it gave me an excellent grounding in critical thinking.

Like many young people, I didn’t have a clear idea about what I wanted to do as a career, but I was always interested in global issues and international development. I did an internship with The Prince’s Rainforest Project while I was at university and then a development research project in Zambia straight afterwards. This all made me realise how much is connected to nature and the environment, and that a lot of global problems are caused by climate change. My interest grew from there.

Starting in the civil service

From university, I decided to go into the Civil Service Fast Stream because it would give me the flexibility to move around subject areas and get involved in lots of different things. When I joined, I asked to work on environment or international development policy areas. I was lucky enough to be placed in the then Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and spent six years in different energy and climate policy areas in DECC, justice and home affairs in the Cabinet Office; and a brief but fascinating stint in the British Embassy in Jakarta working on counter-extremism.

Working to tackle climate change

I’m incredibly lucky to be working in our COP26 team. Each day is different and I have meetings daily with people inside and outside our organisation who are working hard to make a net zero future possible. It’s so interesting and inspiring to spend my time talking to others who are passionate about doing the right thing for the planet. Plus my team is amazing!

It’s so interesting and inspiring to spend my time talking to others who are passionate about doing the right thing for the planet.

National Grid being a Principal Partner of this critical climate change summit means we’re really demonstrating how committed we are to a clean energy future.

Being part of the clean energy transition

It would be amazing if, in some way, I can have helped to make COP26 a success in terms of showcasing the great progress already being made on decarbonisation and encouraging further action.

I’m confident we will decarbonise the energy sector in the UK – my hope is that we do that as quickly as we can and realise all the economic growth and job opportunities this brings, so no one is left behind.

COP26 is crunch time

I think we’re at a crossroads globally, where we can choose to create a better world – one that is cleaner and fairer – if action is taken now. I hope the world’s governments, systems and businesses come together this year – at COP26 – to take urgent action against climate change, before it’s too late to stop its most catastrophic effects.

Advice on eco-careers

I would tell people who are considering this sort of work that the most important thing is to apply for jobs that they find really interesting, in organisations taking action on green issues, regardless of whether they fit a specific career plan.

I would also say that they can get involved in a green career with any background – certainly in energy, I think there’s a perception that you need an engineering or scientific background and I’m proof that that isn’t true.

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My green life…

I’ve cycled to work throughout my career when I’ve been based in London (and not in lockdown of course). My partner and I also went mostly vegetarian at the beginning of last year and no longer cook any meat at home, which was a difficult sell because he’s a real carnivore. We now just have it as an occasional takeaway or restaurant treat and we both find it much easier than we were expecting.

My eco hero…

...is Prince Charles. He’s been advocating for sustainable living for decades, long before climate change was an accepted science. He constantly promotes the importance of nature and sustainability through his work, convening many different groups of people and organisations to take action and raising public awareness. He also makes efforts personally to live sustainably, such as using renewable sources of energy for domestic and office use.

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