If you’ve looked at The Fifth Estate’s jobs section lately, you might have been surprised by the number of jobs on display from the City of Sydney council, all within the sustainability programs division, working on projects like the push for net zero buildings, retrofits and the popular CitySwitch Green Office program.

But these four sustainability positions aren’t all there are on offer, with another four positions being advertised related to green infrastructure, and strategic planning and urban design.

According to the council the massive recruitment drive is all part of a push to accelerate the implementation of its Sustainable Sydney 2030 and Environmental Action Plan 2016-2021 plans, which aim to get 50 per cent renewables across the entire local government area by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said her attendance at C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City at the end of last year was critical in convincing her to take more decisive action, particularly the release of C40’s Deadline 2020 report, which found that the next four years would determine whether the world’s megacities could deliver their part in meeting the Paris Agreement.

“The overriding and deeply significant findings of the report are that the next four years will determine whether the world meets the ambition of the Paris Agreement and that incremental steps are no longer adequate – we need to dramatically increase action,” Ms Moore said.

“As [C40 executive director] Mark Watts said, ‘We need to do twice as much, in half the time.’”

Actions Ms Moore said the council was focused on include net zero buildings, planning controls, developing a renewable energy fund, and extending the Better Buildings Partnership model to other sectors.

The eight available positions are:

  • Green Infrastructure – Sustainable Design Technical Advisor
  • Green Infrastructure – Project Development Engineer
  • Strategic Planning and Urban Design – Planning Program Manager – Sustainability
  • Strategic Planning and Urban Design – Specialist Planner – Strategic (Sustainability)
  • Sustainability Programs – Sustainability Engagement Coordinator Building Tune Up
  • Sustainability Programs – Sustainability Engagement Coordinator Net Zero
  • Sustainability Programs – Sustainability Engagement Coordinator CitySwitch Program Manager
  • Sustainability Programs – Sustainability Data Insights Analyst

See the council’s careers site for more details.

NSW Government in net zero push

Councils aren’t the only place where jobs action is taking place, with the NSW Government also recently undergoing a recruitment drive, with a source telling us there were 80 jobs across a broad range of sustainability and energy efficiency programs for project managers, procurement specialists and comms, marketing and digital staff.

The jobs, which are now closed for application, are apparently part of a restructure, so there might not be a net increase of 80 staff, but our source says it’s being driven by the government’s sustainability ambitions, including its net zero by 2050 target.

Super fund calls for “climate activist”

Usually you’d imaging a climate activist to be someone picketing or occupying a super fund’s lobby, but industry fund Vision Super is, in what it says is a first, calling for a “climate activist” to join its staff.

Vision Super chief executive Stephen Rowe said the company’s climate action team was formed to manage climate risk and also push for policy change at the national and international level.

“We’re a signatory to the Paris Agreement, and take the risks posed by climate change very seriously, so we’ve formed a climate action team that includes Michael Wyrsch, our chief investments officer, as well as me as the CEO, and members of our investment and strategy teams,” Mr Rowe said.

“Markets are not pricing climate risk in appropriately, so we’ve already acted to reduce the carbon intensity of our portfolios to protect our members’ retirement savings.

“We’re also taking a shareholder activist approach, which has already made a real difference to emissions disclosures by companies like Exxon.”

The Seek position makes clear the company is looking for someone with strong ties to the environmental movement that can get out and represent Vision at rallies and protests.

Though while Vision has strong sustainability credentials, being ranked 19th out of the world’s 500 largest investors for action on climate change in the 2017 Global Climate Index by the Asset Owners Disclosure Project, and the fourth largest responsible investor in Australia according to the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia, it could be doing a lot more, according to Market Forces.

Market Forces’ Super Switch website notes the company still has “material exposure” to the fossil fuel sector.

Market Forces campaigner Dan Gocher earlier this year called for Vision to disclose its entire portfolio holdings, provide interim goals on the road to its 2050 carbon neutral target, and be explicit about the type of change it expects from companies in which it remains invested.

“Without this information, concerned members simply cannot make an informed decision,” he said.

“Vision Super have proven that they are taking positive action. But they must address the concerns of those members who believe those actions don’t go far enough.”