‘The increasing awareness of the climate crisis demonstrates a kind of moral revolution’

‘The increasing awareness of the climate crisis demonstrates a kind of moral revolution’

— 23 September 2021

An interview with our new team member, Carlijn Torenbeek

Our newest team member, Carlijn Torenbeek was born and raised in the Netherlands. She studied history and focused on international relations, minoring in philosophy, and went on exchanges to South Korea and Italy.

During her master’s degree, in which she focused on Cold War History and multilateral decision-making within the UN, Carlijn went on to do an internship at the Dutch embassy in the Czech Republic where she had her first experience of working on climate policies. She says this built up her interest in the topic, especially after attending EU policy briefings and seeing the complexities Central European countries face in transitioning from coal to renewable energy.

Aiming to learn more about the world of EU affairs, Carlijn got an opportunity to work in the Cabinet of Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans. She says her work was twofold: policy files and communications. As Mr Timmermans is in charge of the Green Deal, Carlijn worked on many sustainability-related topics, but mainly hydrogen and agriculture.

What will you be doing at #SustainablePublicAffairs?

“Since I have a background in energy, while working in the Frans Timmermans’ cabinet, I will probably be focusing on that too with #SustainablePA”, Carlijn says.

She tells us that “There is a lot to gain in this field in terms of sustainability — lots of possibilities to have a positive impact”. Carlijn thinks that there are plenty of great sustainable technologies out there, “but we just need to make sure the regulations allow them to flourish”.

Having just come from her time at the Commission, Carlijn is curious about working in public affairs. “I never really considered working in the private sector, but I wanted to continue focusing on sustainability and making a positive impact”, she says.

She is very interested in seeing the lobbying process from the other perspective. “I also like that public affairs is about working on the boundary between public and private”.

Where can we have the biggest impact on sustainability?

“Generally, citizens, policymakers and companies all know about climate change, but they are not all acting on it yet. However, the increasing awareness of the climate crisis demonstrates a kind of moral revolution”.

Carlijn sees the shift in companies moving towards sustainability but wants to be part of the movement to “Push for a more climate positive business environment”.

“It is great that public affairs can be used to achieve something good”, she argues, adding that she thinks “it’s important that you can tell your future children that you did your best for the planet”.

What about the future – What would you like to learn?

Carlijn says she is glad to have strong mentors at #SustainablePublicAffairs who will help guide her in this new job. In terms of the future, she says: “I can imagine myself specialising in a field such as sustainable energy transitions’’. But, above all, she is just “very excited to learn more about this profession and the entire topic of sustainability”.

“Hopefully, in the future, all companies will be sustainable”, Carlijn laughs, adding “At least then our work will be done.”

We lobby for climate positive impacts.
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