Our News

10th Anniversary Story: 2019

August 2022 by Lucia Simmons

Throughout our 10th Anniversary year, we’re sharing 10 stories for the 10 years of Carbon Literacy; one story for each year, shared once per month, in the 10 months leading up to the official anniversary date in October.

Story number eight brings us to 2019; a watershed year for Carbon Literacy, when a new idea and partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) would transform the scale of Carbon Literacy delivery and adoption throughout the UK public sector.

Since the inception of Carbon Literacy seven years prior, the onus had been on organisations to create a Carbon Literacy course tailored to their own circumstances and audience. We would support this process, check the proposed learning materials and, if they met the Carbon Literacy Standard, accredit the course.

While this method is still used today for many Carbon Literacy courses, we now also provide and continue to develop Sector Toolkits. How and why did this approach come about?

BEIS on board with Carbon Literacy

Patrick Allcorn, the Head of Local Energy at BEIS, first became aware of Carbon Literacy early on in the project, when the concept was conceived in Manchester as a tool to create ‘low-carbon culture change’. With a background in behaviour change for Transport for London, Patrick recognised two critical steps necessary to bring about behaviour change:

  1. Awareness
  2. Acceptance

Carbon Literacy, he says, provides both of these.

“[The training] gives you the awareness and… the pledges are the form of acceptance that ‘you have a role to play in this’… It is a beautifully shaped, front-end of behaviour change.”

The “penny really dropped”, he said, when at a conference at BBC North, where the BBC spoke highly of their own Carbon Literacy training. Here, he witnessed first-hand how Carbon Literacy brings people and organisations together to find practical solutions that can then be cascaded.

Patrick was on board with the concept of Carbon Literacy but noticed a barrier to implementation in the public sector. Coming from the Civil Service, he knew the scale of organisations which needed to be engaged, but he also knew that many wouldn’t have the capacity or resources to develop their own course. Having seen the CL4RPs Consortium successfully use a shared learning approach to overcome the development cost barrier for organisations, Patrick felt a similar method could help scale the government’s roll-out of its net-zero aims.

Toolkits as a solution 

Recognising the huge potential to accelerate the roll-out of Carbon Literacy and thus climate action, Patrick made a proposal: if given a sum of money, could we create sector-specific courses, generic enough that all organisations within a sector could pick it up (tailoring it further if they wish) and use it to deliver a day’s worth of Carbon Literacy training, specific to their needs? By now, you’ll know our answer!

And so, in 2019, BEIS’s Local Energy Team funded The Carbon Literacy Project to develop ‘off-the-shelf’ Toolkit courses that are in a ready-to-go, easily accessible format for five different public sector audiences: Civil Service, Local Authorities, Universities, the NHS and Blue Light services.

For more in-depth information about the practicalities of the Toolkits, visit our Toolkits page.

The success of the Toolkit approach

At least one Toolkit course has now been launched for each of the five sectors and is available for these audiences to use.

  • The Local Authorities Toolkit was the first to launch, with the Generic Staff course, in October 2020. Toolkit courses for Elected Members and Leadership & Management were later launched in May 2021. As of February 2022, 79 local councils have delivered Carbon Literacy. Read more about the progress of this sector here.
  • The first Universities Toolkit course, developed by Manchester Metropolitan University, also launched in October 2020. Nottingham Trent University has since launched another course for Universities as part of the Toolkit. Both of these are now available to be picked up and adapted by Further Education and Higher Education audiences. As of June 2022, 119 universities and 9 colleges have delivered Carbon Literacy.
  • A year later in October 2021, the NHS Generic Staff course and Ambulance Service Generic Staff course were launched under the Healthcare Toolkit. A Toolkit course for NHS Leadership was also launched recently in June 2022. As of July 2022, 13 healthcare organisations are actively implementing Carbon Literacy. Read more about why Carbon Literacy is important for the healthcare sector, and for healthcare leaders in particular.
  • The Civil Service Toolkit was launched in February of this year. 28 organisations within this sector either have plans to or are already rolling out Carbon Literacy. Find out what Carbon Literacy offers the Civil Service.

Beyond the BEIS Toolkits

The BEIS-funded Toolkits have acted as a catalyst for much wider public and private sector Carbon Literacy Toolkit production.

  • The Social Housing Toolkit was launched in September 2021, after the CL4RPs Consortium provided the funding to update their shared course and offer this as a Generic Staff course as part of a sector-wide Toolkit. A course for Welsh social housing providers, funded by the Carbon Literacy Cartrefi Cymru (CLCC) Consortium, also forms part of this Toolkit. As of June 2022, 61 organisations across the social housing sector have trained at least one cohort of staff in Carbon Literacy.
  • The first private sector Toolkit, the Automotive Toolkit, was launched in November 2021, thanks to funding from Auto Trader UK. As of June 2022, 4 automotive organisations are actively delivering, and 27 others have firm plans to deliver in the near future.
  • The latest Toolkit to be launched was the Museums Toolkit in January 2022, funded by Arts Council England as part of ‘Roots and Branches’; a collaborative project between Manchester Museum, Museums Development North West and The Carbon Literacy Project. Already, 118 museums and cultural organisations have staff trained using this Toolkit.

Ultimately, this shareable Toolkit approach has enabled a much wider Carbon Literacy roll-out and dissemination across the whole of the UK. So far this year, on average, Toolkit certifications have contributed to approximately one-third of our total certifications. In June alone, 1083 out of 1691 learners certified as Carbon Literate were certified via Toolkit courses.

Future Toolkit plans

The Toolkit approach continues to improve the feasibility of large-scale Carbon Literacy delivery and adoption for an ever-increasing number of societal sectors. Toolkits for the port, rail, travel, SMEs, and water sectors are all progressing, with others in the pipeline.

Could your industry be next? Often, all it takes is one individual, passionate about driving positive change in their sector, to start a conversation. If you think this could be you, get in touch at toolkits@carbonliteracy.com.

Sign-up for our monthly Carbon Literacy newsletter