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US College Students Are Shunning Oil-Industry Degrees for ESG Future

  • College students see energy transition marginalizing industry
  • Number of new oil grads seen plunging 83% from 5 years ago
Abandoned cars sit parked in front of a pump jack near Pampa, Texas.
Abandoned cars sit parked in front of a pump jack near Pampa, Texas.Photographer: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg

Scott Lindberg’s dream of becoming a petroleum engineer was fueled by childhood drives through Texas oil country with his energy-consultant father, passing pumpjacks and pipeline hubs that kept the world’s biggest economy humming.

But after recently graduating with honors from the University of Texas at Austin with a petroleum-engineering degree, Lindberg is turning his back on the oil industry and plans to attend law school instead. His disenchantment is rooted in concern that fossil fuels may not have much of a future given increasing pressure from politicians, activists and investors to pivot toward more climate-friendly energy sources.