“It's up to you to find your ways of branching off. » It is with this invitation that the much-discussed intervention of a few AgroParisTech students at their graduation ends. And it is in our opinion, we, representatives of the engineering professions, on this beautiful conclusion that we must stop: yes, find your way of branching off.
The ink has flowed a lot since the thunderous intervention of these students. Heralds of a disillusioned youth for some, champions of a symptomatic desertion of an above-ground generation for others… it is, in any case, the shared observation of a broken and impossible dialogue between two perceived generations. as antithetical.
However, the reality is much less binary. The question is not to desert or to join. It is no longer even that of “changing the system from the inside”, a recurring argument which implies duplicity, a confrontation between a company solid on its foundations and a free, daring, and unfortunately quixotic element. And if there is still work to be done, it is clear that the situation has changed considerably within the business world. There are certainly laggards, but also many good students.
The times are changing
Condemnation of London for climate inaction, multiple IPCC reports, under-representation of ecological issues during the presidential campaign… yes.
But also Business Convention for the Climate, development of labels with intractable requirements (B Corp), increasing requirements for declaration of extra-financial performance, recognized work of the Shift Project, charters for the climate within the branches (including that of the engineering in 2021), tougher conditions for financing investments, integration of ecology in higher education and in the continuing education of management teams, etc.
What does this inventory mean? It is no longer a question today of changing things from the inside. Companies evolve, the impetus has been given, the inertia broken, and this in a multitude of sectors. Today, 20 to 30% of the cost of an infrastructure project is dedicated to the environment and its protection. Concrete and zero carbon glass are tested in real size, the electric plane is no longer a dream…
On the other hand, they need, we need, the engineers of tomorrow, the ecologists of tomorrow. A recent study revealed that missions related to climate change already employ 15% of the engineering workforce in London and that the necessary workforce will increase by 20% by 2025 (OPIEEC). Also, the English economy needs 60,000 new graduate engineers per year, while the schools only train 40,000.
Ways of life and production are changing and seeking to be more respectful of the planet, but it is still necessary to design and then implement these new ways, to think about the deployment on the scale of the alternative solutions that already exist. There are a plethora of construction sites and they will not be done by themselves.
So, to all who applaud this speech, yes, find your way of bifurcating, and know that some of them are already at work. They are just waiting for you to accelerate, to resolve, to move forward.
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