In 2020, The Carbon Literacy Project began producing a series of Toolkits to support key sectors to deliver Carbon Literacy training, helping them to reduce their emissions. Three years later, several Toolkits have achieved important milestones in the number of people certified, signalling the widespread uptake of Carbon Literacy across a sector and a significant impact in terms of carbon reduction.
Carbon Literacy Toolkits are suites of off-the-shelf, accredited Carbon Literacy courses developed and tested by a specific sector, for the sector. They are designed to maximise the ease and speed of adopting Carbon Literacy. With support from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and other key partners, The Project has now developed 17 courses, spanning 9 Sector Toolkits.
Read on to hear from our Sector Toolkit Coordinators, Caelan Knight, Sarah Davies, and Ned Gatenby, about the achievements of our Local Authorities, Universities & Colleges, and Social Housing Toolkits, which have each reached a significant certification milestone.
In April, we passed 10,000 certified Carbon Literate local authority staff in the UK, and we didn’t stop there! As of the end of June, 11,182 local authority staff have been certified as Carbon Literate, meaning 260 local authorities now have at least one Carbon Literate member of staff.
Not only do these staff understand carbon emissions, climate change and its impacts, but they have each taken direct action and pledged over 22,364 new, significant carbon reduction actions. The estimated carbon collectively saved by these actions equates to 40,289 tonnes CO2e – a huge saving for the sector, bringing co-benefits for the local authorities themselves, as well as their residents.
This is an incredible achievement for a sector which, while challenged by funding and policy constraints, continues to play a vital role in the UK’s net zero ambitions. It is a testament to the hard work of ambitious local authorities across the country who are empowering their workforce to act on climate change, and the employees themselves, who have each committed to learning about and taking action on climate change.
Many local authorities have climate change and environment teams, but to achieve the scale and pace of change required of them, everyone working at a local authority must understand carbon emissions and how to reduce them. The Local Authorities Toolkit helps to develop an organisation-wide low-carbon culture, influencing everyday decisions to reduce emissions.
The Toolkit contains specific courses for different areas at a local authority, including for Generic Staff, Leadership & Management, Elected Members and Parish, Town & Community Councils, enabling Carbon Literacy to be embedded across all aspects of a local authority. We will release a further Community Leaders course in October to enable local authorities to share their expertise with leaders in their community.
Sign up to the Local Authorities Newsletter to hear more.
Universities and Colleges
In June, we reached over 10,000 learners certified as Carbon Literate within the education sector. These learners are a combination of staff and students across a range of educational settings, from schools all the way to universities. With the two carbon-reducing actions every learner pledges upon completion of their training, an amazing 21,690 carbon reducing actions have been taken within the sector.
There are now almost 150 universities and over 30 colleges engaged in Carbon Literacy all over the world. From Australia to Mexico, from Canada to Italy, Carbon Literacy is being delivered to staff and students nationally and internationally. The Manchester Metropolitan University materials were even used for the training of British Antarctic Survey staff, aboard the RRS Sir David Attenborough in Antarctica, meaning Carbon Literacy has now been delivered on every single continent on the planet!
Educational providers play a vital role in equipping students with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate their future and career. The Green Alliance found, in 2022, that every sector needs to close a significant skills and knowledge gap to enable effective contributions towards a zero-carbon future. Embedding Carbon Literacy training within education ensures students leave prepared with essential knowledge and skills for their future and career.
Climate education can be siloed to science and geography disciplines, meaning that many leave education without this vital knowledge. Carbon Literacy training is designed to suit all disciplines and has been successfully delivered to art, business and law students among others. The flexibility of Carbon Literacy training means that it can be delivered by anyone within an institute, however educators feel best.
We currently have three Carbon Literacy Toolkit courses available for Higher and Further Educational settings, suitable for staff and students. Sign up to our newsletter to stay updated about new Toolkit courses and exciting updates coming soon!
In March, we passed the 5,000 mark in social housing. This milestone is a huge achievement and is a testament to the hard work that trainers are putting in to deliver the decarbonisation objectives for the sector. As of June, 5,226 people in the sector had received their Carbon Literacy certificate – with 150 organisations having at least 1 Carbon Literate member of staff.
Social housing exists in many forms and, the sector is difficult to map. As such, we are keen to keep training as tailored to its local area as possible. From a Toolkit perspective, this means it can be used (almost) “off-the-shelf” in England, and we recommend other existing courses to those who approach us from Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland – courses which better reflect the policy and funding positions of each nation. In Wales, Carbon Literacy Cartrefi Cymru has trained at least 520 individuals (10% of the sector total!). Keep Scotland Beautiful has trained 165 people working in the Scottish housing sector. Earlier this year, Climate Northern Ireland adapted the Toolkit to fit the unique structure of Northern Ireland’s housing sector; having trained 75 people so far, including members of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. Across the UK, there are 12 accredited social housing Carbon Literate Organisations.
The social housing sector sits at the intersection of public and private sectors, business and domestic emissions, and workplace and community settings. Those in customer-facing roles who have received the training have asked to use CL as a tool to engage communities on how to work together to reduce energy demand (and bills), improve food and transport systems (and health), and enhance local employment opportunities (and skills). This year saw the launch of the Household & Communities course, which supplements an organisation’s Social Housing Toolkit. Together, these materials have amazing potential to support the decarbonisation of 3.9 million UK homes and provide safe, decent, affordable homes that are resilient in the changing climate for the over 1 million waiting for somewhere to live.
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For more information on our Toolkits, including Course Overview documents, head to the Toolkits webpage.
If you are interested in any of our Toolkit courses, or would like to discuss Carbon Literacy for your organisation, please get in touch at email@example.com.