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2021 Review: CL in Local Authorities

January 2022 by Caelan Knight

Momentum for Carbon Literacy in Local Authorities across the UK really began to build across 2021:

  • 1834 council staff members were certified as Carbon Literate across 163 councils.
  • We launched two new Local Authority Toolkit courses aimed at Leadership & Management and Elected Members.
  • 8 new Bronze and 2 Silver certified Carbon Literate Councils.
  • Introductory calls with over 90 new councils.
  • Completed pilots for the upcoming Parish and Town Councils Toolkit.

One of the highlights of the year was the Local Authorities Focus Day, hosted on the 11th of November as part of our COP26 programme of events. The day explored how Carbon Literacy can help Local Authorities deliver climate action, and showcased some of the very best training taking place across UK councils. We are going to use this blog as an opportunity to reflect and highlight some of the key messages from the day’s events.

Carbon Literacy for Elected Members – Scottish Cities Case Study

For our first event, we were joined by: Veni Kojouharova – Scottish Cities Alliance; Judi Kilgallon – Improvement Service and Aoife Hutton – Keep Scotland Beautiful. They presented their collaborative venture to train elected members across the 7 Scottish cities, explaining why they chose Carbon Literacy training and the impact it had for their respective organisations. One of the key messages was the benefit of a “real focus on action as one of the outcomes of the training…”. Veni, Judi and Aoife all felt that Carbon Literacy training was particularly well received and had a strong impact due to its focus on taking personal and professional action to mitigate climate change.

Panel Event – Hear from Carbon Literate Council’s

For our panel discussion, we were joined by four Local Authority trainers: Alex Eburne – Winchester City Council; Debra Conroy – Manchester City Council; Louise Downey – West Sussex County Council and Nicola Webb – North Somerset Council. Discussions covered several themes, from getting started with training delivery, to the impact of training. A key message running throughout the event was the importance of Carbon Literacy training being available for everyone within an organisation. As Louise described, “Carbon Literacy is important across the organisation, it’s not for specific teams only… everyone has the opportunity to deliver actions and deliver carbon reductions in their work.” Panellists felt that getting people together from different roles within their council to discuss climate action was incredibly helpful, and inspired some great, collaborative, cross-departmental actions. Everyone, no matter what role they play, can benefit from Carbon Literacy training and take action against climate change.

Nicola Webb: “Local Authorities have really massive jobs to do in every sort of sphere… we’ve got people who are running libraries and people who are building and maintaining roads and cycle paths, and social workers, and every single one of them has a job to do, and every single one of them can do that job in a greener way.”

Parish and Town Councils Toolkit Taster Session

This session delved into our upcoming Toolkit for Parish and Town Councils. We were joined by those who have piloted the course: town councillors, Christiane Startin-Lorent and Belinda Bawden, and Allan Wilson and Richard Watkins from Save our Shropshire CIO. Guests shared why they thought education in this topic was essential for town and parish councils, including the vital role that these councils play in community engagement. Cllr Bawden shared some feedback from her recent pilot at Lyme Regis Town Council – summed up by one learner who said they felt “more informed and therefore more empowered.

Attendees of the session were then led through one of the interactive activities from the Toolkit by Pete Watkins from training organisation, Speak Carbon. The activity focused on how to adapt communications to engage different sectors of society on climate. It got people thinking about how to connect climate actions to different people’s values.

The Town and Parish Councils Toolkit is due for launch this year, to stay updated please sign-up to receive our Local Authorities Newsletter.

Local Authorities Showcase

For our final discussion, we invited Local Authority representatives and trainers to present their unique insights and experiences of Carbon Literacy.  First, Sammy Gray, Climate Change and Environmental Projects Officer at Wyre Council, shared her experience of training senior leadership. This included some excellent tips and tricks for getting started with Carbon Literacy training, the benefits of training in-house and the benefits of becoming a Carbon Literate Organisation. Next up, Amanda Smith, Zero Carbon Britain Hub Training Manager, described how as one of our new open training providers, The Centre for Alternative Technology has certified their own version of the Local Authorities course. They have added their own spin by threading their Zero Carbon Britain research throughout the training, complementing and building upon the existing knowledge in the Toolkit. Finally, Hazel Clatworthy, Sustainability Policy Officer at Monmouthshire County Council presented the fantastic progress made to deliver Carbon Literacy at scale via regional partnerships across Gwent. Having organised training for 220 people from 11 different organisations in Feb/March 2021, Hazel discussed the impact and how this has translated into demand for community training.

Where next?

All of these events, as well as an Introduction for Carbon Literacy for Local Authorities, can be watched back on our YouTube channel. We hope these events have provided some insight into the amazing work Local Authorities across the country are doing to tackle climate change using Carbon Literacy training, and that this has inspired you to take your own steps towards your climate mitigation targets. If you are interested in Carbon Literacy training for your Local Authority, you can find out more on our Local Authorities webpage and please do get in touch via localauthorities@carbonliteracy.com.

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