Carbon Literacy Toolkit for Healthcare and Blue Light

Why Carbon Literacy for Healthcare?

The global health sector accounts for around 4% of emissions worldwide, that’s more than shipping or aviation. The NHS’s carbon footprint totals at 25 million tonnes (that’s the same as the whole annual emissions of Sri Lanka) and with Net Zero targets fast approaching in 2040, there is a need to take action now.

The Carbon Literacy Toolkit for NHS provides Trusts with the resources and tools needed to engage their staff in national net zero policy and encourage low carbon actions across the NHS. From Estates to Theatres and Hospital wards, Carbon Literacy is for everyone to identify how they can reduce their workplace emissions.

The Carbon Literacy for Healthcare Framework inextricably links climate change and human health, providing details highlighting how a healthier planet can lead to a healthier population and therefore less demand for healthcare services.

The 2021 Lancet report highlights that despite being aware of climate change, healthcare staff feel unprepared to discuss the issue with patients and colleagues in order to drive significant change. The report highlights the need for ‘continuing professional education, communication training and patient education materials…’ to overcome barriers such as time constraints so commonly felt by NHS staff. The Healthcare Framework provides a comprehensive and detailed starting point to delivering climate education within your Trust.

We have both a Generic Staff and Leadership courses available for those working in Healthcare. Additional support for public bodies and government departments can be found here.


  • Carbon Literacy Toolkits and sector-specific courses have been developed to maximise the speed and ease with which Carbon Literacy can be adopted within each sector.
  • The majority of the materials have been developed and accredited to save time, costs, and make adoption as easy as possible, with only the addition of local content and case study examples needed to tailor the course to your audience.
  • Toolkit and course development is supported by The Carbon Literacy Project, but, as always, training materials are developed, contributed, curated, selected and reviewed by representatives of the relevant sector.
  • Toolkit materials are kept up to date either by The Carbon Literacy Project or by sectoral experts working closely with The Project.
  • This approach maximises the opportunity for healthcare organisations to use the latest and most effective sectoral materials for their learners.
  • As a result, ‘reinvention of the wheel’ is avoided, and the expertise and experience of many are brought together, to deliver more effective training and better climate change outcomes.

About the Healthcare Toolkits

The Healthcare Toolkits provide you with the tools and resources needed to deliver a days’ worth of Carbon Literacy Training focusing on what NHS employees can do in their working role to reduce their own workplace emissions and as a collective to support reduce overall NHS emissions. The Healthcare Toolkit has been co-developed with a number of NHS trusts and CCG’s (ICS’s) across the country including Salford CCG, Northwest Ambulance Service, Leeds Teaching hospital Trust and the Manchester University NHS FT. The training has been supported and backed by Greener NHS for the roll out of training for healthcare and leadership roles.

The training can be split into modular chunks to allow ease of uptake and contains all of the references and resources you need for internal delivery. If internal delivery is too much of a challenge, please get in touch with us to be connected to potential training providers. Comments from participants who have been accredited using the Carbon Literacy for Healthcare Toolkit describe the training as ‘comprehensive’, ‘insightful’, ‘uplifting’ and a ‘valuable tool in helping to become a greener organisation’.

Key Questions

Can healthcare staff use the same course?

We have a few different course approaches available for training within NHS settings.

Our Generic Staff Course takes a slightly different approach than our other sectoral Toolkits. In this instance, we have taken a framework approach, due to the many varied working roles of healthcare professionals. This framework allows training to be relevant to all NHS staff, whilst maintaining relevance to the learner’s working role. The materials are *approx 75% generic, with 25% being customisable to the job roles of the learners (this is slightly more than in other sectors).
The customisable content consists of editable slides where local examples and case studies can be added. The case study module allows trainers to apply specific case studies detailing what others, in roles similar to their learner group, are already doing. This works to inspire individuals to reduce emissions using examples accessible to them.

Our NHS Leadership Course follows a ‘suitable for all’ approach to training. This was developed under the expectation that leadership roles within the NHS should have an understanding and awareness of where changes can be made across their organisation. Therefore, this involves examples from a variety of different departments, workstreams and innovation approaches. The NHS Leadership course focuses on wider NHS innovation approaches and what can be done from a strategic organisational wide approach to reduce emissions and work with sustainability professionals and champions to encourage change across the organisations.

What is included in a Toolkit?

When receiving a Toolkit you will be sent a Dropbox link which gives you access to a live folder where the most up to date materials are always kept. The folder contains a slide deck (.pptx), a comprehensive trainer manual (.pdf), an activity pack (.pdf) and a copyright document (.pdf). These are all the resources you need to deliver Carbon Literacy Training.

Who can gain access to the Toolkits?

Toolkits are designed for specific sectoral audiences and content is matched to the needs of that sector. As such, materials are only released to organisations that in the view of the funders, the sectoral consortium, or The Carbon Literacy Project, correctly belong to that sector or work alongside that sector. This is not only because of the need to maintain the quality of Carbon Literacy by ensuring the appropriateness of the content, but because Toolkits are usually governed by Creative Commons licensing agreements and content is owned by contributors who have only given permission for its use, or commercially licensed it for use, in specific not-for-profit contexts. Training organisations or consultants wanting to adopt Toolkit materials or adapt them for new sectors or audiences should in the first instance approach The Carbon Literacy Project for further information.

If you are an organisation that has not had contact with The Carbon Literacy Project before we will normally talk to you first, either by phone or online, to better understand your delivery plans and connect you up with other organisations and/or people that may be able to support you.

Coordination and piloting of the healthcare sectoral courses have been funded by The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) via The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and has involved contribution and donation of materials and testing and piloting by a number of authors, trusts and healthcare services.

Are they really free?

The Carbon Literacy Public Sector Healthcare Toolkit and all its components are covered by a Creative Commons Licence and this formulation of materials is Copyright © The Carbon Literacy Trust 2020.

This Toolkit has been designed and curated for, the purpose of certified Carbon Literacy training within the National Health Service and approved partner Healthcare organisations. The contents are distributed free of charge and licenced (and in many cases sub-licenced) by many contributing organisations for that purpose only. The rights and copyrights of contributing parties still apply.

If you are an external organisation who provides NHS services and contractual agreements and are wishing to use the toolkit to provide training to NHS organisations you may be granted access to the toolkit depending on your plans for usage.

In some instances, we reserve the right to charge external organisations to access the materials, depending on plans for usage for more information please contact us at .

Making the Case

One of the most common queries from individual healthcare organisations is for advice and support persuading colleagues of the social and economic case for rolling out Carbon Literacy. Upon training completion, participants will often feedback that the training speaks for itself with many of the co-benefits of reducing emissions being clearly examined and explored during the session, however we are aware that NHS organisations sometimes need a little extra support, which is why we have curated the resources below.

Below are some resources, free for you to use, to help you make that case.

Key Partners


NHS Generic Staff Course

Available Now
Free to use for qualifying organisations

Aimed at staff working in the NHS, with the ability to differentiate between roles*.

The course is a day’s worth (8 hours) of interactive training developed to be run over either:

  • One full day
  • Two half days

It’s designed to be delivered online using video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. However, with minor changes, the materials can be delivered in a face-to-face training environment.

*The framework to the NHS Generic Course can be customised to suit any department or team across the NHS, with examples including procurement, estates, physios, and theatres already running successfully.

We can support you in the development or option of customisable content to suit your specific audience.

The highlight of the course was the opportunity to bounce ideas around with other people and listen to experiences from others in the group. It led to some thought-provoking discussions and ultimately it felt uplifting to know there were other people who were working on these problems too.
– Katherine Smith, Former Junior Doctor

Produced in partnership with
The Carbon Literacy Project
SEE Sustainability, North West Ambulance Service, Manchester University FT, Salford CCG, Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust, The Regional Sustainability Network & Cambridge University Hospitals FT.

Course development funded by
Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA)


NHS Leadership Course

Available now
Free to use for qualifying organisations

NHS Leadership roles.

There is one version of the toolkit. The course is a day’s worth (8 hours) of interactive training developed to be run over either:

  • One full day
  • Two half days

This Toolkit is customisable to the audience (blue slides) but includes generic examples of case studies across a range of different carbon hotspots, with the expectation that leadership roles should have an overview of action that needs to be taken across a range of departments and working groups across the NHS.

‘The training isn’t just theoretical, staff also learn about practical, everyday ways in which we can go about meeting those targets. As well as being really worthwhile the training is also very flexible, and each department in the Trust is free to decide who and how many members of staff need to be trained.’
– Libby Sutherland, Environmental Manager at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Produced in Partnership With
The Carbon Literacy Project
Greener NHS, NHS England & Improvement, Bradford District Care NHS FT & Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust.

Course Development Funded by:
Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA)


NHS E-learning course

Coming Soon

Aimed at groups where live training is more difficult to access (patient facing roles) the course will be available on NHS elearning platforms and will take a mostly asynchronous approach followed by a group action based workshop.

Expected delivery in 2023

In collaboration with
The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, Greener NHS and e-learning for Healthcare, Health Education England

"There's always an assumption that those of us who work in Sustainability have sustainable living figured out. We don't, we face the same barriers that the average person does - money, time constraints, willpower and, of course, the benefit of convenience! There wasn't really anything I didn't know about included in the Carbon Literacy training, but it raised questions. Developing this training stopped me from excusing myself from taking action! I've made and will continue with some massive personal changes & have further ones in the planning."

Karen Aguilera, Sustainability Officer for North West Ambulance Service

"My team and I found the training really useful and very insightful. In addition to a grounding in the science behind climate change, we learned about how it’s also a health emergency and how we as a Trust contribute to it, along with its implications for us, as an organisation… The training isn’t just theoretical, we also learned about practical, everyday ways in which we can go about meeting those targets."

Craige Richardson, Director of Estates and Facilities at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

"An insightful and comprehensive course for colleagues within the Healthcare sector. The course perfectly deconstructed the 'Why' and the 'How', equipping me with the knowledge and determination to effect the significant decarbonisation of our industry."

Zoe Anderson, Surgical Equipment Specialist at Bausch and Lomb

"You may have heard people who have been through the Carbon Literacy training raving about it... And rightly so! I was sceptical about CL at first. I didn't know if we could pull it off in the time frame, if I could get commitment from our Sustainability Steering Group to attend or even if we would continue rolling out beyond the pilot. To get there we did a lot of research on the health impacts of climate change... SO MUCH RESEARCH. We've had quite the challenge trying to fit so much content relevant to NWAS and the NHS into this training and I'm really excited."

Karen Aguilera, Sustainability Officer for North West Ambulance Service

"The highlight of the course was the opportunity to bounce ideas around with other people and listen to experiences from others in the group. It led to some thought-provoking discussions and ultimately it felt uplifting to know there were other people who were working on these problems too.”

Katherine Smith, Former Junior Doctor

"The actions of individuals can and do make a difference. Learners who have completed a days’ worth of approved Carbon Literacy learning can be certified as Carbon Literate and we believe this training, this deepening of awareness, is a valuable tool in helping us to become a greener organisation."

Libby Sutherland, Environmental Manager at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Request a Course

To request one or more of the available courses for Healthcare, please Contact Us listing ‘Healthcare Toolkit’ as the subject. Please include the following:

  • A healthcare organisation / NHS email address
  • Which course you are requesting?
  • Why you are interested in these courses?
  • Your plans for roll-out (if at this stage of thinking)

If you’d prefer not to use the contact form, please email us at

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