Building a career around climate

By Laura Kenworthy 2min read

Alumnus Liam Cawthorne (BA Geography 2014) has been interested in the challenges of climate change since watching Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth as a child. As an undergraduate studying Geography at Homerton, he focused his final year dissertation on the impact that climate change is having on winter tourism in the Swiss Alps.

“You’ve got whole communities that are dependent on the winter weather for tourism and the infrastructure set up to service it, and I was interested in how they are responding to not being able to rely on favourable snow conditions.”

After graduating, he took some time out to work in Switzerland, before completing an MSc in Climate Change, Management and Finance at Imperial College, London.

“It’s a very new course – we were only the third intake. Climate change has really picked up in the public discourse over the past few years, and government, industry and the private sector are really realising that they need to respond.”

The course brought together graduates from a range of academic backgrounds, including Economics, Geography and Natural Sciences, providing a useful diversity of perspectives. Despite the disruption to the course itself caused by the pandemic, Liam believes that the sector has taken inspiration from the example of Covid to demonstrate that big global changes can be tackled when we really need to.

“When Covid hit, jobs in sustainability and renewable energy grew. Everyone in my course found a job soon after finishing.”

An internship at Ikigai Capital has expanded into a full-time role as Junior Associate at the consultancy, which works with investors, large energy consumers and operators in the energy sector.  Founded in 2017, the company combines consultancy, funding and co-development expertise in support of decarbonisation projects, acting also as a clean technology accelerator, supporting companies to scale up and deploy their solutions.

Liam is currently working on the investment plan for the decarbonisation of Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, an area whose concentration of industry currently consumes around 5% of the UK’s energy. He is also involved in Ikigai’s work to deliver a Hydrogen Investment Strategy for the Thames Estuary.

“I’ve always been pragmatic in my approach to climate change,” he says. “It’s a difficult task and there are lots of challenges to overcome, but you should only worry about the outcomes that are in your control. It’s very exciting to see the response to climate change picking up the pace.