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Financial Services Supporting Automotive Decarbonisation

June 2024 by Ruth James

Image credit: Santander Consumer Finance

Santander Consumer Finance joins forces with The Carbon Literacy Project and Auto Trader UK to support the industry’s sustainable future

The transport sector is changing. And fast. Electric vehicles have been gaining popularity, and hydrogen-fuelled HGVs are making a steady entrance.

All this is happening for a good reason. In the UK, transport accounts for nearly one-third of emissions and, as part of their net-zero strategy, the UK government expects to see the biggest drop in emissions come from the transport sector. But how will this be achieved?

Cooperation. Collaboration. Commitment.

To facilitate this within the industry, organisations must be equipped with the knowledge and expertise to drive conversations amongst customers and other industry stakeholders – a skill that can be facilitated through Carbon Literacy training.

Having witnessed the success Carbon Literacy training had in engaging their employees, in 2019, Auto Trader pioneered the first development of a shareable Carbon Literacy training Toolkit for the automotive sector.

This collaboration between The Carbon Literacy Project and Auto Trader has enabled around 4,000 individuals across the sector, including financial services like Santander Consumer Finance, to strive for climate education and action by becoming Carbon Literate.


What are financial services? And how do they influence the sector’s transition to net zero?

Thanks to their work with consumers, retailers, and manufacturers, financial services have the power to shape the industry in a unique way.

They are an umbrella which facilitates smooth transactions by providing financial products to customers – loans, leases, insurance, maintenance plans – to aid their purchase or bridge the transactions-gap between manufacturers and dealerships.

As a result, financial services can influence how people shop for vehicles and move consumers towards a more sustainable agenda. They can provide packages which suit a low-carbon transition, incentivise the adoption of EVs over combustion engines, and support manufacturers to push sales for low-emission vehicles to ensure they reach their goals and further accelerate the transition.


Financial services adopting climate education

Carbon Literacy training began for Santander Consumer UK in September 2023, mainly focusing on their Green Ambassador network. Thanks to positive feedback across the board, training continued in the new year, involving many other teams across the business as they aim to provide the workforce with an understanding of climate change and how financial services can be part of the solution.

Natalie Crawford, Sustainability Manager at Santander Consumer UK, shares more about their journey and the role Carbon Literacy has in educating their workforce on climate change and helping them build a sustainable culture.

“We were approached by Auto Trader who were keen to invite us to attend an Automotive Toolkit training day to see if the course may be right for us. We had already looked at some sustainability and climate change training options for our people but hadn’t found one that was quite right for us, so this was great timing!”

“All organisations have obligations to work towards net zero. It’s very hard to do this without staff who are bought into why this is needed and the role they can play.

For any business to have a meaningful impact in the race to net zero, it’s important that staff at all levels understand why change is so important. We opened [the training] up to anyone from across the business to put their name down to attend. We’ve now run two further sessions in January and February 2024 with attendees from a whole variety of teams such as Risk, IT and Customer Services.”

In addition to empowering their workforce through Carbon Literacy, Santander Consumer UK is also committed to work alongside their stakeholders to support them as the market transitions to EV.

“We have recently conducted a survey of over 300 of our retailers to understand how we can support them with the transition to EV. As we look to implement actions as a result of the survey’s findings, it’s key for us to also have an internal culture where addressing climate change is front and centre of our minds.”

“Carbon Literacy training breaks down the important concepts of climate change and explains terminology so that all staff can be part of the climate change conversation, both inside and outside of the workplace.”


Climate action beyond the workplace

Responses to the training have been overwhelmingly positive, with the benefits from the training sessions having ripple effects beyond the workplace.

Natalie shares the story of one employee who was inspired to work with their local community to lower its emissions by writing an article for the local magazine to raise awareness and inspire other residents to make changes that they can make to tackle climate change. This action alone will reach around 2000 people – with the potential to trigger a cascade of climate action.

Connection. Collaboration. Commitment. This is exactly what Santander Consumer UK have fulfilled. Changing their internal culture to one where “addressing climate change is front and centre of our minds.” One day of training leads to infinite positive impacts.

Would you like to join the effort to decarbonise the automotive industry? Get in touch with our automotive team at automotive@carbonliteracy.com.

You can also visit our Ticket Tailor page and explore upcoming dates for our Carbon Literacy open training sessions.

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