Two Years at Octopus Energy Group
Various things I've been thinking about as I finish my second year working for an Octopus Energy Group subsidiary.
Capitalism as a driving force
I believe that capitalism has been for the last 300 years or so a potent force toward driving action and development, especially within market economies. While history is colored with examples of behaviors harming subsidiary regions during the colonial period of Western expansion, there's no denying the impact and dynamism of capitalism on humanity.
To be succinct, for better or worse, capitalism makes things happen.
So the idea of using capitalism and market economy to intentionally address climate change has intrigued me since I first discovered this was a thing in late 2020 when I got hired by Octopus Energy. It takes a powerful force capable of motivating humanity and turns it toward a good purpose. As someone who spent years working for the defense industry and then saw upfront the challenges of politics on space exploration (I worked at NASA for 5 years), this excites me to no end.
So in summary, capitalism as embraced by Octopus Energy allows me to use my professional skills and talents to have a truly greater-than-my-person impact on the planet's destiny. It's why I took on employment at Octopus Energy.
Politics can't be relied on to fix climate change
First, even the most decarbonization-friendly politician can and will get replaced by someone who has an opposite opinion.
Second, even decarbonization-friendly politicians face political realities that force them to act against better climate interests. For example, Joe Biden approved more permits for oil drilling than any other president in history, beating out Trump by 34%.
Simply put, we can't expect politicians to act in our best interest when it comes to climate change, decarbonization, and electrification.
We can encourage politians to help by providing stimulus, but we shouldn't expect that assistance to be consistent or logical.
Individual contribution is good, scaling up is better
As an individual I do my part:
- I compost about 95% of my family's food waste
- I compost about 50% of my family's paper/cardboard, recycling the rest
- I have a house with solar panels
- I am in the process of taking my house off the natural gas system
- I have reduced unnecessary travel as much as possible (which is hard - I love to travel)
That's great, but I have managed to scale that up by working for Octopus Energy.
As an employee of a subsidiary of Octopus Energy Group, I take payment from a collective of companies whose product is saving the planet. Under four thousand employees are at least in part responsible for about 25 million people getting onto renewable energy.
Let's math that out, using conservative numbers:
6,250 = 25,000,000 / 4,000
That's right, each employee is roughly responsible for 6,250 people contributing significantly less to global climate change. Scaling up is better.
Economies of scale
Helping 6,250 people decarbonize is just a start. What excites me is we're at just the onset of the decarbonization industry and the history of Octopus. Also, our business growth isn't slowing, it's accelerating. I expect that if I do a similar calculation next year that number will have grown.
The reason is the more people we bring on, the better we get at it. The more effective we become at harnessing the business and tech side of things, the more that ratio will increase.
I'm curious and excited to see what happens in the year to come.
The next few decades are going to be hard
AKA climate change is a poor person's problem
Just like an automobile can't stop instantaneously the planet can't reverse its direction instantaneously. I can afford to pay for my house's heating and cooling or to move somewhere better, but already the increased cost of fossil fuels is hurting those less fortunate. It's only going to get worse, and we need to acknowledge that, fix the problems, and move on. If we act now, then we can reverse the course of climate change, although we may not see a meaningful change in decades.
Some want us to despair, to give up. They want us to think since it's not going to be fixed, we shouldn't try to decarbonize. To buy into more production of an industry that ejects carbon into our atmosphere. This industry has over a hundred years of experience marketing their product to us, politicians, and bankers. All in order making a profit off our misery.
I'm not falling for the despair they want us to feel, and neither should you. As I said, we need to acknowledge the challenges we face, meet them head-on, and address them.
And that's another reason I'm at Octopus Energy. We're pragmatic and positive, and that combination empowers us to try to change the world.
Come and help me save the planet
I invite anyone who is reading this to join me on my mission of saving the planet. The careers page is here.
Please understand that we usually can only hire in countries in which we have a legal entity. So if a role isn't listed for the country in which you reside, we probably can't hire you.
If for whatever reason you can't get a job with Octopus, apply to work at somewhere else into decarbonization. Let me know where you go and I'll celebrate your joining our shared mission.
I'll be upfront that if you want to make the biggest bucks possible in tech, travel a lot, and fly outside of economy class, go work for a FAANG company or a fintech. Sure, our stock options are decent, but working to make billionaires richer means you'll probably make more and fly in a better class. On the other hand, we're making the planet better for our descendants, which to me is much more important than helping a billionaire score another billion.
Thank you to everyone at Octopus that I've worked with over the past two years. There's too many of you to name, but suffice to say I appreciate all of you. It's been an amazing ride and I look forward to where things take us as we orbit the sun together again.
So here's to another year of lots of silly mollusc references!
These opinions are my own, and don't necessarily reflect the policy or opinions of Octopus Energy Group or any of its subsidiaries.
- 2022-11-25: On hiring, changed from that we only hire in places where we retail electricity to where we have a legal entity. Also, specified that it's unlikely rather than impossible. Thanks to James Eddison for the clarifications on policy
Tags: octopus climate-change rant