About Carbon Literacy and The Project

What is Carbon Literacy?

Carbon Literacy means being aware of the impact of everyday activities on the climate, and knowing what steps can be taken to reduce emissions as an individual, a community group, or an organisation, and why it’s important that we all take these steps. The actions of individuals can and does make a difference. Learners who have completed a day’s worth of approved Carbon Literacy learning can be certified as Carbon Literate.

When was The Carbon Literacy Project founded? Who owns it?

The Project was founded by Cooler Projects. Cooler Projects act to create and deliver projects that work towards a low carbon culture. Currently, The Carbon Literacy Project is Cooler’s biggest project and was publicly launched in October 2012, in Halle Square, Manchester Arndale. As part of Cooler’s work, an independent charity, The Carbon Literacy Trust has been established to own The Project on behalf of the people of Manchester.

What does The Carbon Literacy Project do?

The Project aims to make Carbon Literacy learning accessible to everyone and works to create a low carbon culture. As the accreditation body, The Project does not deliver training directly, but rather training is delivered in-house by each organisation or outsourced to experienced Carbon Literacy trainers or training organisations. Originating in Manchester, Carbon Literacy has expanded nationwide, and is now being delivered internationally.

Why Manchester?

Manchester was the world’s first industrial city. It, therefore, shares responsibility for the global dependence on the fuels that generate CO2. So, it’s only fitting that the city should be the first to originate a project like The Carbon Literacy Project, forging a path towards a low carbon culture. In 1780 in Manchester, Richard Arkwright built his first factory for cotton manufacturing by connecting the newly invented steam engine to a loom on a site only a few hundred metres from Cooler’s first offices, in the Northern Quarter. It was the mechanisation of machinery for production and transport that resulted in our present day consumption of the fossil fuels. It is therefore particularly appropriate for this city to be the source of The Carbon Literacy Project.

How is The Carbon Literacy Project being paid for?

The first part of the coordination of Carbon Literacy was paid for by Manchester City Council and Westford Mill, a private sector sponsor. The delivery of Carbon Literacy is being paid for from a wide range of sources but mainly from existing training and education budgets. The Project also offers unique sponsorship opportunities – contact us for details.

Why is ‘Carbon Literacy’ capitalised?

The phrase ‘Carbon Literacy’ is capitalised to distinguish it under the established definition in the Carbon Literacy Standard. Whereas, ‘carbon literacy’ implies the use of the phrase in an abstract sense. When talking about Carbon Literacy in your teaching and promotional materials etc. please always use the capitalised form, Carbon Literacy.

Certifying Myself

Is it possible to become Carbon Literate as an individual?

We are currently working hard on an outlet to allow individual citizens to become Carbon Literate, outside of their organisation, school or community. We don’t have anything set up formally quite yet, but please get in contact with us and we’ll help link you with any courses running in your area. (It is possible but there are only a number of courses available. Check out the events page for upcoming opportunities). If you are interested in setting up a course for individuals, head to the ‘set up a course’ page.

How else can I be certified as Carbon Literate?

Speak to your colleagues, managers, CEOs, housing association, community networks, teachers, lecturers or similar about rolling out Carbon Literacy within your organisation, community or place of education, then drop us a line and we’ll advise you on the next steps.

How long will a Carbon Literacy certificate last?

Certificates awarded to individuals carry unique codes and will not expire, but it is likely that the core elements of the content will evolve over time, and standards and expectations will rise. When subsequent “upgraded” versions of the certificate become available, individuals may choose to refresh their skills to ensure they retain the latest version. This is particularly likely to be the case if these certificates are used to support the Carbon Literate Organisation (CLO) status of an organisation.

What will I learn?

Your Carbon Literacy course will teach you the basics of climate change science, what’s already happening globally and locally, how your actions may be affecting climate change and what you, as an individual, can do to help. During your course, you will also make at least two significant low-carbon pledges. You will:

  1. Create at least one significant action, as an individual, to reduce your own personal carbon footprint.
  2. Create at least one significant action involving other people to reduce the collective footprint of your workplace, community or place of education.

You will discuss ways in which you can reduce your impact and the benefits of doing so. You’ll also learn about some of the excellent things that those around us are already doing (good, wholesome inspiration!) and find out how to motivate and inspire those around you, including gaining the confidence to express your Carbon Literacy to others.

Do I need to have any experience before taking my Carbon Literacy course?

Not at all. You don’t need to have any prior knowledge of climate change to take part in this course. You do need to be keen and willing to learn.

Who will issue my certificate?

Certificates are only issued by The Carbon Literacy Project. During your workshop, your trainer will be collecting evidence from the session (these can be photos, questionnaires or anything that we can use to see that you’ve taken part in the learning, and created a personal and group action). When this evidence is submitted to The Project by your trainer we will review it and use it to certify you as Carbon Literate. We will then issue your certificate to your trainer, who will distribute to you.

Is the course hard?

Becoming Carbon Literate requires a relative amount of hard work. Learning about climate change, for one, isn’t easy – but it’s the most important thing you’ll ever learn.

In order to achieve your Carbon Literacy certificate, you do have to put in some effort. It’s not an ‘easy ride’, and we only certify individuals that have shown engagement, enthusiasm and have contributed to the workshop activities and discussions. You must create significant personal and group actions to reduce your carbon footprint. The most important thing is you’ll have all the support you will need from your trainer and the other learners in the room. Your trainer will also give you advice on where to find out more following completion of your course.

What are the costs involved?

That depends on where you are trained. The Carbon Literacy Project receives no central funding, so for obvious reasons, there has to be a charge for the work required to certify training and certification (to cover our own costs). Whilst these costs are a fraction of the cost of other certification schemes, they are real and need to be factored into training planning. Do remember, the financial benefits of Carbon Literacy alone outweigh the costs many, many times over.

Great, I’ve got my certificate. What next?

Ensure you put it on your CV. It will show potential employers how driven you are, and how serious you are about the environment. Your certificate will have a unique number on it: this is your number. Sometimes employers get in touch with us to check this number; we’re able to confirm that you are Carbon Literate using this code.

How do I express my Carbon Literacy to others?

Now you know more about climate change you can talk about it to others. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer to a question (there is so much to learn about climate change, no one can ever know it all!) but speak out about what you know. If you encounter a difficult question then Skeptical Science is an excellent place to go to find the answer, plus it gives you the science behind all the most common climate change myths that you’ll encounter.

What can we do to encourage others to make change, and facilitate behaviour change?

Raising awareness about climate change and sharing your own manageable, positive actions is a great way to encourage change. If your organisation, school, university or community is not yet Carbon Literate then talk to us to see if we can work together to help implement it.

Got another question? Contact us.

Certifying my People

What is the Carbon Literacy Standard?

The Carbon Literacy Standard sets out the elements that define Carbon Literacy. The Standard ensures all Carbon Literacy courses remain consistent, so all learners are recognised as having met the requirements of the Standard, and that this qualification, therefore, has a defined meaning. Certified learners receive a unique certificate to evidence their Carbon Literacy.

What is a Criteria Checker?

When creating a Carbon Literacy course the Project team needs to ensure your course and teaching materials comply with the Carbon Literacy Standard. In order for the Project team to check this, you need to fill in a Criteria Checker, which is essentially a check-list allowing us to match your piece of training to the Carbon Literacy Standard. Carbon Literacy needs to be consistent so that it can be recognised in all the many organisations and communities where it takes root. Carbon Literacy learners can, therefore, be certified as having met the requirements of the Standard, and learners get a uniquely coded Carbon Literacy certificate to evidence that achievement.

What happens when I’ve completed my Criteria Checker?

Email it to us alongside your training materials and give us about 10 working days to process it and get back to you. The Project team must formally ‘approve’ training before it can be delivered. We may approve it after the first go, but we normally send it back to you with suggestions of resources, materials and other ideas to help you match the CL Standard. Once we’ve approved your Criteria Checker, and therefore your course, you’re free to deliver it. Remember to collect sufficient evidence during delivery so we can see your learners have engaged, and created personal and group actions to reduce their carbon footprints, and carbon footprints as part of a wider group. Once this evidence has similarly been approved by us we will issue a unique certificate per learner. These will be sent to you as a PDF for you to distribute to your learners. (We can also print certificates, but we prefer not, to reduce our carbon footprint…!)

Please note: Carbon Literacy training that is delivered without approval by The Carbon Literacy Project via Cooler Projects cannot be described or accredited as Carbon Literacy. If in doubt, just ask us.

I want to submit my Criteria Checker. What do you mean by ‘supplementary materials’?

You must ensure your Criteria Checker is returned to us with your attached supplementary materials, otherwise, we will not be able to approve your course. Your supplementary material may come in many forms but should include all the materials that you will be using to deliver your course. e.g. course structure documents, Powerpoint presentations, questionnaires, participant forms, information about activities you’ll be running, links to resources, etc. Please keep these documents as concise and relevant as possible. For example, don’t include individual photos, but rather, put them all in the same document and upload together. Please make sure you refer to the relevant part(s) of your supplementary material in the correct sections of the form.

I understand I have to collect ‘evidence’ from my learners. What does this mean?

You need to collect evidence when you are delivering your course. This evidence allows us to certify your learners. We need this evidence to (a) ensure that your learner took part in the training, and (b) to allow us to determine whether a participant is Carbon Literate or not. Please note, the Project team can only judge the Carbon Literacy of individuals on the strength of the evidence supplied.

Evidence must be submitted to the Project team within 14 working days of the completion of their learning. The evidence can be in the form of a questionnaire, or another suitable document and may be backed up with photographs, etc. but the evidence, as a minimum, MUST:

  1. Demonstrate that the learner has created their own personal action (an action that works to reduce the learner’s own personal carbon footprint);
    b) Demonstrate that the learner has created their own group action (an action that works to reduce the carbon footprint of others);
    c) Both these actions must be meaningful, i.e. reduce a significant amount of carbon and/or be fitting with the societal position of the individual. For more information on this, please read the Carbon Literacy Standard.

Once you have submitted the evidence for each learner we will issue you your learners’ certificates so that you may distribute them.

Do I need a qualification to deliver Carbon Literacy?

We seek to ensure that Carbon Literacy training is, wherever possible, delivered by people who share a common background with the participants. Therefore, you don’t need to have any formal qualification to become a Carbon Literacy trainer. However, you must have enthusiasm and confidence to stand in front of a group of learners. Expect your workshops to be highly interactive and potentially quite challenging. The Project team must certify your teaching plan and materials and reserves the right to attend your training sessions to ensure the quality is high. The Project team also offers Train-the-Trainer courses to help to-be trainers gain the skills required for Carbon Literacy delivery (contact us for details).

I’ve decided I want to deliver Carbon Literacy myself, as the Trainer. Where do I begin?

Start by clicking through our presentation, here. It’ll give you the basics of how Carbon Literacy works. Start by defining your audience and working on your training materials. Contact the Project team if you are interested in attending one of our Train-the-Trainer courses.

Tell me about the Train the Trainer course.

Carbon Literacy delivers the Train the Trainer programme subject to demand. If you wish to train a trainer for your organisation or be a certified Carbon Literacy Trainer yourself, please get in touch and we will help to make that happen.

I am a Trainer and I want to deliver Carbon Literacy to my learners using e-learning. How can I do this?

The Carbon Literacy: Knowledge (CLK) E-learning Framework has been developed to assist organisations and trainers in delivering Carbon Literacy. The framework meets almost all of the requirements of the ‘Knowledge’ component of the Carbon Literacy Standard and will take a learner about 3 ½ hours to complete, leaving the rest of the Standard to be covered by a face-to-face training session. Find out more about the e-learning course here.

How do you roll-out the training to the staff who are either part-time or are in contract?

There are many different ways to deliver Carbon Literacy training, through workshops or via e-learning, for example. For part-time or contracted staff, e-learning could give greater flexibility for your learners, if you feel they would be suited to computer work. Workshop-based learning could also be broken down into a series of smaller sessions if desired.

Got another question? Contact us.

Certifying my Organisation

I’m interested in Carbon Literacy training for my school/work/community group, what do I do now?

Great! Let us help you. First of all, take a look at our short presentation. It’ll give you the basics of how Carbon Literacy works. Remember, you’ve got two options. You can design and deliver Carbon Literacy in-house, or you can outsource to an experienced trainer or training organisation.

How does my organisation become accredited as a Carbon Literate Organisation?

The accreditation is applicable to any organisation, from large corporations to small or medium-sized enterprises. On the Become a CLO page, you can find out more and download an info pack. Start by reading the Carbon Literate Organisation Standard, which defines the criteria for becoming accredited.

How do you embed Carbon Literacy into the supply chain?

The Carbon Literacy training can be created by a designated trainer within your organisation. As a result, training is tailored to the needs of your company and any supply chain associated with it. The Carbon Literacy Project encourages companies to reach out to companies they work with and recognises this effort in the gold Carbon Literate Organisation accreditation. An organisation could make Carbon Literacy training a requirement for companies they are sourcing products off, providing a good model that environmental awareness is high on your agenda.

What will drive workforces to engage and be motivated to act?

Carbon Literacy training gives people the opportunity to make realistic, manageable changes to reduce their carbon footprint. There is a focus on positivity and achievable goals throughout the training, motivating people to make small changes to their daily life to reduce their carbon footprint. The course caters to different learning styles to engage as many people as possible. This ranges from tasks in pairs, in groups, watching videos, etc. To maintain enthusiasm, some organisations showcase employees’ pledges, putting it at the entrance to the building. Other participants have created an online platform for discussing the matters about sustainability and update each other on the positive steps that they are taking to reduce their carbon footprint.

Have you delivered to senior teams? How do we gain senior support?

Yes, Carbon Literacy has been delivered to many senior teams. Senior staff are often the first staff members trained, in order to gain initial support and subsequent attendance of less senior staff. Senior staff usually welcome this training, as it sends a strong message about the company’s corporate social responsibility and creates a hub for positive change.

Got another question? Contact us.


What is the Carbon Literacy e-learning course?

The ‘Carbon Literacy: Knowledge’ e-learning course has been developed to assist organisations and trainers in delivering Carbon Literacy. The framework meets almost all of the requirements of the “Knowledge” component of the Carbon Literacy Standard. The course covers the basic science of climate change, in a structured and easy to navigate way. The course takes a learner about 3 ½ hours to complete, leaving the rest of the day’s worth of learning to be delivered through a face-to-face workshop. Following completion of the course, a learner is awarded a uniquely-coded Carbon Literacy interim certificate, which is upgraded to a full Carbon Literacy certificate upon completion of their full day’s worth of learning.

How is a learner assessed through CLK?

CLK contains a-number-of fun and informative challenges throughout, concluding with a multiple-choice evaluation that tests what the delegate has learnt throughout the course. Naturally, in order to ensure a baseline level of knowledge and engagement has been met, the learner needs to pass this final evaluation in order to pass the CLK course and receive their interim CLK certificate, and learners are allowed three attempts, whereby their login will remain available to them so that they can return to refer back to the module as a resource in between attempts.

Is the e-learning course hard?

Climate change is a serious topic of conversation, but we do try to keep things as light as possible. Due to the nature of the topic, learners shouldn’t expect an easy ride – but the learner is supported through her or his journey, and signposted to sector-specific resources, organisations and bodies that can help them both during and after the training.

If a learner is not able to pass the test after three attempts there are a few points to consider:
– Has the learner been mindful throughout the process of completing CLK?
– Are there language barriers that the learner may have experienced?
– Are there any other contributing factors that suggest this learner may not be suited for this piece of learning?

CLK allows one licensed learner three attempts at the short end-of-course test. If the learner is unable to pass the test after these three attempts then the learner has not yet met the requirements of CLK and cannot yet be issued a CLK certificate. This also means that the trainer cannot use CLK as a demonstration of this particular learner’s knowledge of climate change when it comes to submitting evidence for full CL certification (post-workshop).

In order for this learner to achieve CLK certification, they will be required to either take the course again from the beginning (using the same login), and this will then unlock a further attempt at the test or the learner may complete our Further Questions document (to be submitted alongside the rest of the evidence for this cohort).

Please contact the Project team if you have any queries about this process.

How do I access the course?

Carbon Literacy: Knowledge is hosted by Virtual College on an online Learning Management System (LMS). In order to access this, learners will need internet access and will be issued with a personal login and learner account, but each organisation participating has a master account, called an Organisational Administration account, to which their learners belong and sophisticated messaging and learner management is possible once an organisation has been set up (by The Carbon Literacy Project).

Who should use this resource?

A general CLK course has been designed for use by any organisation, for roll-out across their staff and the wider environment (residents, supply chains, etc.). This course is also appropriate for institutions, communities, and interested citizens looking to complete the Knowledge section of their Carbon Literacy training.

Will my learners be certified?

Any learner who completes CLK will become CLK Literate and will receive a certificate for this. In order for a learner to become fully Carbon Literate, they will need to complete the rest of the day’s worth of learning through face to face working, a workshop, or similar.

So, how much does it cost?

Per-learner Cost: There is a per-head cost for each learner, starting at £40: there is a discount matrix for larger orders – please get in contact for more information on this through CLK@carbonliteracy.com.

What if there isn’t a customised course available for my sector?

If you would like to fully customise a CLK course for your sector, we could help you write one.

There are significant economies of scale for large organisations and/or sectoral groups who come together to jointly develop training materials, whether written or online.

There are also already a number of sectors (some in the public domain, some not) sharing resources and the costs of jointly developed materials and then collaborating to disseminate Carbon Literacy in both learning and action.

In almost all instances it is probably best to contact us initially and we will advise.

Need help understanding the Learning Management System (LMS)?

We’ve got a whole webpage dedicated to you! It will help you understand the process of incorporating CLK into your organisation, including IT requirements, and we’ve also listed some of our most commonly asked FAQs. Find out more

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