Employees are Willing to Quit Jobs Over Weak Climate Action

  • More businesses are making bold climate pledges, but many are failing to back these up with real action
  • Employers are mistakenly investing in carbon avoidance offsets which are proven to have no impact on net zero goals
  • Now, a fifth (20%) of UK employees are unsatisfied with their employers’ commitments to tackling climate change
  • And regardless of a wider economic downturn, employees will not accept their employers backing out of climate responsibilities, with over a third (35%) of all employees willing to quit if they do


New data released today by Supercritical, the software platform that helps businesses get to net zero, reveals that over a third (35%) of UK employees are willing to quit their job if their employer takes inadequate action to reduce its carbon footprint.

The data, from a survey of over 2,000 UK office workers, reveals that climate remains top-of-mind for employees but many do not feel that reflected in their employer’s current pledges, creating real problems for businesses already facing an increasingly tense macroeconomic environment.


Employees are Voting With Their Feet

As companies prepare to enter a recession, leaders are looking for ways to cut costs. Too often, sustainability initiatives are wrongly considered a “nice to have” which can be cut when purse strings tighten.

However, today’s data shows that’s a dangerous gamble. One fifth (20%) of all employees are already unhappy with their employer’s current climate initiatives. Even in a recession, a third (32%) would not be comfortable with their company cutting its sustainability programme to save money.

In fact, more than a third (35%) would consider quitting a role if an employer takes no action to reduce or eliminate its carbon footprint, a sentiment particularly widespread among Gen Z, with over half (53%) of 18-24 year olds willing to consider leaving an employer based on net zero credentials.


Michelle You, co-founder and CEO of Supercritical, says: “Corporate climate policy is the new DEI. Businesses can no longer get away with changing or scrapping their sustainability initiatives at the drop of a hat. Employees are demanding more and employers are being held to account. Those that want to attract and retain top talent must start seeing climate action as a non-negotiable or risk being left behind.”



Retaining the best employees has never been more important to the bottom line. The number of unemployed people in the eurozone has fallen to an all time low of 6.6% of the workforce, while there are roughly two vacancies per employed worker in the US. The talent market is stagnant, increasing competition for every vacancy that needs to be filled.

In this war for talent, robust climate action is a huge point of attraction. 70% of UK employees would be proud to work for a company committed to climate action, and more than half (54%) consider the steps a company has taken to reach net zero an important factor when deciding whether to work for them. 60% would choose to work at a company that has a clear plan to reduce or eliminate its carbon footprint over one that doesn’t.


A Dire Need For Education

However, making a pledge is not enough. The data also reveals an alarming need for widespread education on effective decarbonisation methods.

Worryingly, nearly half (45%) of employees incorrectly believe traditional carbon avoidance offsets, currently the mainstay of many corporate climate programmes, are effective at fighting the climate crisis.

In reality, these offset methods simply enable businesses to pay someone else to reduce future emissions to compensate for their own, and they do not count towards net zero. Research published in 2021 found that 90% of offsets certified by Gold Standard and other groups either failed to offset as much as they claim, are not permanent, contribute to the degradation of local communities or ecosystems, or suffer from a combination of all of the above.

Carbon removal, which actively and permanently sucks carbon out of the atmosphere, is the only viable route to net zero. These methods include technologies like direct air capture and enhanced weathering, and while their efficacy has been proven, businesses are failing to invest in these programmes, instead continuing to rely on cheaper but ineffective traditional offsets.


Michelle You says: “Traditional carbon offsets are ineffective at best, fraudulent at worst. They have benefited from successful marketing campaigns over many years and are now the backbone of too many corporate sustainability programmes. Some carbon offsets are sold for as little as $1 per ton, but the reality is, you can’t save the planet for a dollar.

“Carbon removal technologies are the only way we have a chance of reaching net zero, but they are still in their infancy. These methods need to scale 20,000x in the next 30 years, and that’s going to require businesses to get serious about their climate commitments, and put their money where their mouth is. We need widespread education to wean businesses off traditional offsets, which are a waste of time, and to start investing in cutting edge carbon removal.”


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