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Top 5 Reasons People Fail to Become Carbon Literate

May 2016 by Virginia Harvey

The goal of The Carbon Literacy Project is to offer every individual who works, lives and/or studies in Greater Manchester access to a day’s worth of Carbon Literacy learning. Indeed, CL is now positively spreading to other areas of the UK (as intended), and the seed has been planted in many other countries.

Becoming Carbon Literate (as individuals, organisations and cities) is vital to the health of our planet, because we need the efforts of every individual in reducing carbon emissions to tackle climate change. We need Carbon Literacy to nurture our low-carbon culture.

Here at Project HQ, we hope that every learner who undertakes Carbon Literacy learning will become certified as Carbon Literate. However, this isn’t the case for several reasons. We never fail learners, but we may not certify them first time, and then it’s up to the trainer and the learner in question to provide extra evidence to demonstrate their Carbon Literacy.

With this in mind, we wanted to give you a quick countdown of the Top 5 reasons why learners may not become Carbon Literate straight away. [Spoiler alert: Sometimes it’s an oversight from the learner, and sometimes it’s the trainer!]


How a trainer can ensure their participants will all become Carbon Literate: –

  1. Ensure you collect and submit evidence from your learners. Evidence from each of your learners must be collected during their learning, and submitted promptly so we can certify them as quickly as possible. We upgrade the CL Standard every so often, so as the Project grows so you may find you’ve missed the boat! Rule of thumb: submit evidence no later than 14 days after the training is completed. For more info about evidence see our FAQ’s.
  2. Ensure the evidence is clear and organised. We love to dedicate our time to certifying as many learners as possible, but if the evidence is disorganised or unclear it may be hard for us to do so. We need to receive, as a minimum, a certificate request form (downloadable here), payment (see request form), and proof of your learners’ personal actions and group actions.

Please note: We need to see evidence to (a) ensure that your learner took part in the training, and (b) allow us to determine whether each learner is Carbon Literate or not. The Project can only judge the Carbon Literacy of individuals on the strength of the evidence supplied. Please bear this in mind when reviewing your learners’ evidence prior to submission.

How a learner can ensure they become Carbon Literate: –

  1. Ensure your actions are significant. This is the No.1 reason we aren’t able to certify learners. Following your Carbon Literacy course, you should be enthused and empowered to want to reduce your carbon footprint, and the carbon footprint of those around you. Part of your Carbon Literacy course involves creating actions to do this (one personal action and one group action), and these actions must be significant. For example, we don’t want to hear that you’ve decided to recycle your paper at home. You should be doing this anyway. We want to hear that you’ve switched your energy provider to one that uses 100% renewable energy, or that you’ve created substantial green initiatives across your organisation! Self-analyse your own actions and ask yourself if you feel they are significant enough. Your trainer may tell you to re-think your actions before they even get to us.
  2. Ensure your personal action differs from your group action. This sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how often we get this. To become Carbon Literate you need to pledge an individual action and a group action. Your individual action doesn’t have to be focused on changes you can make in your home, and should ideally take place in the setting that the training has taken place. For example, if you’ve received your CL training at work, both your actions should take place within the work place, if possible (with an exception given if you feel you can make a bigger impact by changing something in your home life, than you have the authority to do at work, though this must be explained). Your individual action is essentially asking you to commit to a change you can create, without needing to ask anyone’s permission, to reduce your carbon footprint or that of your workplace/ institution/ community. Your group action should consider how to work with other people, to create a change within your workplace/ community/ place of study etc. to reduce the carbon footprint of a group of people. Consider this: How can you involve the most people to make the biggest impact?
  3. Ensure you give us everything we need. We look at the forms your trainer collects from you and assess it as an indicator of how well you have engaged with your Carbon Literacy learning. Make sure to fully complete everything to the best of your ability and you will pass with flying colours. Remember, we want to certify you.

As we’ve said, we never fail a learner permanently, we just might not certify you until we get enough evidence, and with these tips you can ensure you, or your learners, can become Carbon Literate quickly and efficiently.

Happy learning/ training!

For other useful links to make sure you are fully prepared to start rolling out your Carbon Literacy training, see the ‘Quick Links’ section at the top of our homepage.

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