Carbon Literacy

How carbon literacy makes a difference

An infographic sharing the small actions Fiona takes to reduce her carbon emissions

Probably like a lot of people, I sometimes wonder what I, as just one person, can really do to effect the change we need in the world. The news can be depressing – even overwhelming. It’s easy to fall into a fatalistic mood and think that nothing we do will really change anything.

Becoming Carbon Literate has given me a more optimistic view of things. At work, I’m surrounded by people who care about the challenges of climate change – and are doing something positive about it. I work closely with the Carbon Literacy Cartrefi Cymru (CLCC) consortium, a group of Welsh registered social landlords who came together to improve Carbon Literacy within their organisations by pooling their knowledge and resources. Cynnal Cymru worked with the Carbon Literacy Project to create a certified course tailored to the housing sector, and volunteers from each member organisation learned how to deliver it and then began rolling it out to their colleagues, providing the peer-to-peer training that is a key tenet of Carbon Literacy. I facilitate regular Community of Practice meetings for the consortium to provide a platform for support and networking, and the enthusiasm and hard work of the trainers are inspiring – and have so far resulted in more than 400 people becoming certified as Carbon Literate. With the consortium due to continue into 2023 and beyond, that number will continue to grow. As part of my own Carbon Literacy group pledge I’ve also been working with the Cynnal Cymru team to create content for our newsletter and social media, providing advice and tips on how everyone can reduce their daily carbon footprint.

Outside the office, I’ve been doing my best to reduce my own carbon footprint – and the training has given me the knowledge I need to make meaningful changes. It taught me that some of my preconceptions were wrong, and that something as simple as buying a new pair of jeans can have a huge carbon footprint. I’ve now restricted myself to only buying essential items of clothing, buying second hand if possible, and if not then choosing companies that have good sustainability policies. We’ve also just made the switch to a full electric car – it’s a bit of a step into the unknown, but should significantly lower our household’s carbon footprint. My individual Carbon Literacy pledge was to not take another commercial flight, but I’ve also become much more aware of the importance of the things I do every day. Taking a shower, making a cup of tea, even sending an email – everything we do has a carbon footprint, and thanks to the training, I understand much better now how to make changes to the little things that will have a much larger cumulative effect. The Carbon Literacy training bridges the gap between enthusiasm and knowledge, providing the keystone that informs what we do and the impact we can have. The choices I make now are far more informed, and I am confident that they are making a difference.

Find out more about our Carbon Literacy course

10 years of The Carbon Literacy Project

It was five years ago that I first met Dave Coleman, co-founder and director of the Carbon Literacy Project. He had come to Wales at the invitation of the then Director of the Size of Wales Project. They had met at the historic Paris COP summit where The Project was awarded TAP100 status. Dave presented the Carbon Literacy Project on a sunny morning to a small group of us in Cardiff. At that time, in 2016, the CL Project was only operating in Manchester and Scotland and Dave was looking for partners in other parts of the UK. I listened carefully, asked questions and then reported excitedly to my colleagues in Cynnal Cymru that I had found something that we simply had to get involved with.

We delivered our first Carbon Literacy course in 2017 and five years, 700+ trainees 200+ organisations and 1476 pledges later, I had the great pleasure to attend the tenth birthday party of the Carbon Literacy Project on Tuesday the 1st of November 2022 in Manchester.

In the early days after first meeting Dave, we worked together to introduce Carbon Literacy in Wales. Progress was slow at first but the recent exponential growth of the project in Wales is mirrored across the world. Globally the project is now on 43.5 thousand trainees and just under four thousand organisations engaged. Dave and colleagues have extrapolated the rate of growth and think a target of 1 million people trained could be reached by 2030 or earlier. Each month, the calculations push that target closer to 2022, month by month, as the enquiries, bookings and certifications continue to pour in.

I am very pleased to be able to say that I was the first certified Carbon Literacy trainer in Wales and that Cynnal Cymru was the first organisation in Wales to champion the project. We worked hard to establish it and prove its worth but hey look – this isn’t about me or us. Carbon Literacy is about everyone. We are delighted that more people are offering the training in Wales and as we say to all our clients, our role is to start you off. Ultimately Carbon Literacy works best when the trainee is being trained by someone like them…. When the conversations around climate change are embedded in the context of the participants and when actions are agreed in a collaborative atmosphere by peers challenging each other and holding each other to account. And everyone needs to get better at following up on the actions pledged and calculating/estimating the carbon savings that result.

Being in Manchester for the tenth birthday celebration felt like being part of a family. But every one of us there knew that while we could pause to savour the success, our pleasure could only be short lived. There is still an enormous mountain to climb. Global warming looms over us like a huge wave of destruction threatening everything we love and take for granted. There are powerful forces of ignorance and greed that push against the growing surge of citizen action and enlightened corporate commitment. People are asking us what we should be looking for from COP in Egypt. Our message is clear. Look for nothing. Look only to your own spheres of control and influence. Take care of your world. You are one of a growing number. Tipping points can be positive as well as negative and no-one knows which small action will start the avalanche or spark the revolution. The world does change for better as well as for worse. For one short evening in Manchester we smiled and enjoyed our achievements but the following day it was back to work. Indeed, some important colleagues missed the celebration because they were delivering evening Carbon Literacy training! This does not stop. It can not stop. Cynnal Cymru is ready to help you start your Carbon Literacy journey. We are waiting to hear from you.

Find out more about our Carbon Literacy and Train the Trainer courses

Carbon Literacy Course Book

Carbon Literacy Course Book

This eLearning course book is designed to complement our online Carbon Literacy training, providing additional learning during and after you complete the course.

You will have access to the course book after completion of the course and we encourage you to dip in and out as needed.

Carbon Literacy is:

“An awareness of the carbon dioxide costs and impacts of everyday activities and the ability and motivation to reduce emissions on an individual, community and organisational basis.”

The course timetable

Duration

Across
one week

Facilitated Sessions

Tuesday and Thursday
Two 3 hour sessions

Self Directed Learning

To support online sessions
Minimum 2 hours recommended

Certification

Subject to successful completion

Planning for a Successful Learning Experience

The course includes two online facilitated sessions with your course-tutor and fellow students. These sessions are essential to achieving your certification as well as providing a valuable opportunity to reflect on your learning and explore each topic in more depth.

To participate in the online facilitated sessions you need access to a computer or tablet with a mic (video camera optional) as well as access to Zoom video conferencing.

We recommend a minimum of 2 hours of self-directed learning, including time to read articles, watch videos. 

Checklist

You can explore the course below, and see what content is featured.

The Three Questions – Supercool

Since 2004 Supercool have been collaborating with ambitious, forward-thinking clients – from big music venues to intimate theatres, global touring companies to local festivals – on websites, digital applications, digital strategy and consultancy, and branding projects.

Who you are and what your organisation does?

Katie Parry – a co-owner and director at digital design agency, Supercool. We craft beautiful, accessible, and performant websites for arts and culture sector clients across Wales, England, and Scotland.

What has Carbon Literacy training done for you and the organisation?

On the personal side, the Carbon Literacy training offered by Sustain Wales has given me a good understanding of – and ability to talk with others about – the basics of climate change. I now feel more confident discussing it with friends and family.

My personal pledge was about eating and drinking more locally/sustainably. Since becoming carbon literate, I’ve reduced the amount of meat I eat, I buy more produce locally, and have switched from supermarket plastic bottled milk to local milk delivery in reusable glass bottles.

As for work, making my ‘group pledge’ related to our work at Supercool is a great motivator to get it done! My pledge was to write a guide to having sustainable in-person meetings, and I’m hoping to get this written and published over the next couple of months.

Thinking about your organisations journey with sustainability. What would your advice be for a business starting down this road? (3 top tips)

1) Work out your business’s carbon footprint – there are lots of online tools that can help you with this

2) Review and reduce your energy consumption – from small things like using LED lightbulbs in the office, to big things like ditching the office altogether.

3) Make sustainability an intrinsic part of your company – we’ve seen business benefits including improved recruitment and retention, and it’s helped us to win new clients too.


“I found the Carbon Literacy course run by Sustain Wales an enjoyable and time-efficient way to boost my knowledge and confidence around climate change, and what we can all do about it.”

Katie Parry


You can find out more about Supercool’s sustainable journey, by reading the following blog posts:

Sustainability Update + 2022 Action Plan | Supercool (supercooldesign.co.uk)

Carbon Footprint Update – 2022 | Supercool (supercooldesign.co.uk)

To find out how Carbon Literacy training can benefit your business, visit our training web page or contact training@cynnalcymru.com.

Food Skills Cymru – Sustainability Training with Lantra

The Food Skills Cymru programme delivered by Lantra aims to support Welsh businesses within the food and drink processing and manufacturing industry to upskill and train employees. As part of the project, Lantra worked in collaboration with sustainability experts from Cynnal Cymru and Eco Studio to develop a Sustainability Training Programme. The course was designed to “equip participants with the knowledge and skills… appropriate to their situation that address environmental management, sustainability and social impact.”

As Cynnal Cymru’s role in the project draws to a close, we are celebrating its positive impact upon Welsh businesses by sharing the following case studies:

At Cynnal Cymru, we offer a variety of training services. To find out more about our Carbon Literacy and Naturewise courses, visit our training page. If you are interested in Cynnal Cymru developing a bespoke course to suit your specific needs and requirements, please contact us via training@cynnalcymru.com.

How the CLCC is breaking down barriers in climate education

Since its inception, 75 members have become trainers and 157 individuals have certified as carbon literate. CLCC’s Project Lead (Luke Penny) and Facilitator (Fiona Humphreys) were interviewed by Abi Hoare Development Officer at Cynnal Cymru to share the story behind the collaboration.

What is the CLCC?

Carbon Literacy Cartrefi Cymru (CLCC) is a consortium of 27 different housing associations in Wales, which have individually contributed resources to increase Carbon Literacy throughout Welsh social housing.

Through peer-to-peer delivery, the project provides the tools necessary for individual tenants to understand the causes and consequences of climate change, as well as empower them to act upon their choices. At the close of 2021, 75 trainers were involved, and 157 individuals had been certified as Carbon Literate, even though most independent courses weren’t due to start until 2022.

What is a consortium?

Effectively, a consortium is a formal collaboration, where people work together to achieve a common objective. In this instance, the common objective is to certify as many Carbon Literate individuals as possible within housing associations – both staff and tenants.

How does it work?

Each of the housing associations involved have contributed resources to fund the development of Carbon Literacy delivery within their individual organisations. Currently, 75 staff members have attended Cynnal Cymru’s ‘Train the Trainer’ course to support their teaching.

Even though the delivery is down to the trainer’s own discretion, participants will typically receive a day’s worth of virtual peer-to-peer learning, before submitting an evidence form to become certified. This will feature two pledges that will have a positive effect on carbon reduction at home and in their workplace/ with a group.

What is its main advantage?

Firstly, it removes the ‘us and them’ narrative that dampens climate activism and makes it inaccessible. One of the difficulties with climate change discourse, is that it’s difficult to know where to start if you have no formal education.

By providing Carbon Literacy training through housing associations, the course can give individuals the starting block they need that they may not have had the time, money, or knowledge to access otherwise.

How has working in collaboration increased action on Carbon Literacy?

In simple terms, by training new trainers, more individuals can take part in the Carbon Literacy Project than before. Not to mention, the resulting network and Communities of Practice are providing moral support that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

The energy and excitement of the CLCC’s trainers is what makes all the difference, so having a safe space to share experiences and challenges has helped significantly.

What role does Cynnal Cymru play in the consortium?

Cynnal Cymru acts purely within a secretariat and facilitator role. It has no specific requirements within the project, besides its initial creation and providing the necessary tools and support. What housing associations and trainers choose to do with Carbon Literacy beyond that is entirely their own decision.

What’s next for the CLCC?

A second version of the course is currently in development based upon the feedback received in the Communities of Practice, but the next big step is translating the course and delivering it entirely in Welsh.

In time, there is the possibility of starting new Carbon Literacy consortiums in different sectors or industries where Cynnal Cymru are available to offer that inception and on-going support role.

Free Carbon Literacy Training

*Rural Newport includes the wards of Llanwern, Marshfield, Graig, Langstone, and Caerleon.

Up to 90 free online training places are available for members of the community in the area who’d like to know more about the Climate crisis and how to take action.

There are also up to 116 places available for Town or Community Councils and those looking after Community Buildings.

Carbon Literacy is a training course which develops an awareness of:

“the carbon costs and impacts of everyday activities and the ability and motivation to reduce emissions, on an individual, community and organisational basis.”

Participants will:

  • Develop action plans for themselves and a group
  • Use their knowledge for the benefit of their own lives, their local area and the Climate.
  • Those successfully completing the course will be awarded a certificate
  • Follow-up contact will help them maintain progress and share ideas to inspire others.

Duration

The course is “A day’s worth of learning spread across one week.”
Several cohorts will run online from January – March 2022 – you can see the available dates and booking links below
Participants will:

  • Join two online sessions (3hours each on different days)
  • Complete 1 hours worth of self-directed learning online at their convenience
  • Give a total time commitment of 7 hours across one calendar week.

Members of the Community – find your cohort here!

Choose a Cohort number from the table below. Follow the booking link and click on the cohort number to book your place on both Workshops.

Cohort Name and No.Workshop Dates and TimesBooking Link
Community Cohort 1 1. January 11th 2022 09:30-12:30
2. January 13th 2022 09:30 -12:30
Book your place
Community Cohort 2 1. January 25th 2022 18:00-21:00
2. January 27th 2022 18:00-21:00
Book your place
Community Cohort 31. February 21st 2022 13:30 – 16:30
2. February 23rd 2022 13:30 -16:30
Book your place

Town and Community Councils and those looking after Community Buildings – find your cohort here!

Choose a Cohort number from the table below. Follow the booking link and click on the cohort number to book your place on both Workshops.

Cohort Name and No.Workshop Dates and TimesBooking Link
Councils and Buildings Cohort 11. January 18th 2022 18:00-21:00
2. January 20th 2022 18:00-21:00
Book your place
Councils and Buildings Cohort 21. February 7th 2022 13:30-16:30
2. February 9th 2022 13:30 -16:30
Book your place
Councils and Buildings Cohort 31. February 21st 2022 13:30-16:30
2. February 23rd 2022 13:30 -16:30
Book your place
Councils and Buildings Cohort 4 1. March 8th 2022 09:30-12:30
2. March 10th 2022 09:30 – 12:30
Book your place

The free places are available thanks to Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is supported by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government’

Four ways Welsh businesses can tackle climate change

As COP26 comes to a close, many of us will be wondering what more we can do to tackle climate change.

As well as being the forum for governments to debate the way forward, it’s sparked wider discussions on the changes we all need to make.

Governments alone won’t solve the problem. Companies have a huge role to play too. Many businesses in Wales have already pledged action as part of the All Wales Plan to reach net zero or the UK Business Climate Hub (which also has useful tips on cutting emissions). Others have also added their voices to the Climate Cymru campaign, which is calling for strong commitments from government.

So what can your business do right now to make a difference? Whether you run a snack bar, solicitor’s or a steel plant, here are some key ways you can take action.

1. Tackle your energy use

At 29% of Wales’ emissions, our energy supply pumps out more greenhouse gases than any other sector – higher than transport or agriculture.

Fortunately, there’s plenty your business can do.

Switching to a green tariff will support renewables, but how about cutting how much energy you use too?

A survey by the Carbon Trust shows that 80% of SMEs in the UK are taking action on energy efficiency, with installation of LED lighting the most popular measure.

According to Business Wales, heating accounts for about half the energy used in offices. It also provides a guide to saving energy, starting with checking the building is insulated as thoroughly as possible.

One business that’s taken action on energy is Cardiff restaurant Kindle, which has installed sheep’s wool insulation and sensor controlled lighting.

2. Train your staff to be ‘Carbon Literate’

Cutting your emissions isn’t always easy.  This is where Carbon Literacy training comes in.

The course helps learners understand how climate change will affect them, and develop knowledge and skills to lower their carbon footprint.

One Welsh business that’s already benefitted is the country’s largest motor retail group, Sinclair Group. Nine senior representatives from the company recently took part, building on the firm’s existing work to cut emissions such as installing solar panels and switching to renewable energy providers.

Since doing the training, the managers have made a pledge, including giving customers access to electric courtesy cars and investing in ethical pension funds.

If you’re interested in getting your staff certified in carbon literacy, then check out our courses!

3. Protect and restore nature

We’re facing a nature crisis – one in six species in Wales is at risk of extinction – yet nature holds many of the solutions to global heating.

For example, trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere and lock it up for centuries. According to the Woodland Trust, a young wood with mixed native species can lock up 400+ tonnes of carbon per hectare.

Peatlands are another important carbon sink. Globally, they store more than double the amount of carbon than the world’s forests. Draining and digging peat up to use as garden compost however causes  it to break down with time, releasing the stored carbon dioxide and methane.

One example of a firm taking action is Cardiff-based Orchard Media & Events Group, which has partnered with Coed Hills Rural Artspace, to create its own ‘Orchard’ within the existing eco-friendly community.

Your business can help too. Perhaps you can seek advice on how to create, protect or restore habitats on any land you own or manage, or switch to using or promoting peat-free compost? The Nature Wise toolkit is a great place to start.

By signing up for our Nature Wise programme, you and your staff can learn more and get support with developing your own nature action plan.

4. Pay the real Living Wage

Making the shift to low carbon will mean some big changes, and it’s important that this change is fair to everyone, including those in high emitting industries or on low pay.

One thing your business can do is sign up to be a real Living Wage employer. Earning a real Living Wage helps people to make choices – with the food they buy, the gas and energy they use. This helps people to participate in being part of the solution to tackling climate change – mentally, physically and economically.

Ready to act?

Have these ideas inspired you to do more in your business to tackle climate change?

We’re here to help turn your sustainability aims into action, providing advice, training and connections – so please get in touch if you’re ready to take the next step.

Sinclair Group Drives Ahead with Carbon Literacy


Coinciding with the opening of the COP26 global climate summit in Glasgow, the event was hosted by sustainable development company Cynnal Cymru, the official Welsh partner of the Carbon Literacy Project, as part of a day to catalyse action on climate change.

Nine senior representatives from the Sinclair Group undertook a bespoke training course at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire, where they gained a better understanding of the impact of greenhouse gases and the effects of climate change together with an appreciation of the company’s own footprint and the influence this has on the local environments around its 21 dealerships and much further afield.

They are the first business in Wales to engage with the Carbon Literacy Project at a senior management level and the only motoring group so far. The Sinclair Group represents a number of motor manufacturers that are already taking significant strides towards an emission-free future with the electrification of their vehicle ranges. By 2025, Audi will offer more than 20 models with all-electric drive and estimates around 40 per cent of its sales will be for electrified models, whilst by the same date, Mercedes-Benz will produce electric-only vehicles as it gets ready to go all-electric by 2030.

Meanwhile as the decade draws to a close, Volkswagen intends to have increased the share of its all-electric vehicle deliveries to more than 70 per cent across Europe. From Brecon to Neyland, Sinclair employees are also making a difference following the appointment of ‘eco-champions’ at each site to co-ordinate colleague suggestions for green initiatives that can be introduced across the Group.

As a result, solar panels have been installed on the roofs of 10 of the Group’s dealerships to convert the sun rays into electricity. The company has also switched its energy supply to providers using renewable sources. Other ideas include the introduction of meat-free Mondays to encourage staff to opt for vegetarian/vegan options at the start of each working week, the use of china cups in showrooms instead of plastic or paper alternatives to reduce waste levels and the installation of recycling stations in every location.

“In partnership with the manufacturers, we recognise that as a retailer we have a responsibility to do all we can to best protect our environment and offset carbon. It is our aim to see an 80% reduction in our carbon footprint by 2035 and to be carbon neutral as an organisation by 2050”


“Our colleagues across the group are already making progress but, as Directors, we want to demonstrate our commitment too and, following our involvement in the Carbon Literacy Action Day, each of us has made a pledge that includes giving our customers access to electric courtesy cars, improving our provisions to car sharing and investing in ethical pension funds.”

“We want to inspire our staff to understand climate change, their role in it and to take positive action at home and at work. That way we can make a positive difference together.”

During their training session, the Sinclair Group received a virtual visit from the Carbon Literacy Project to share the actions resulting from their day of learning with over 30 other leading UK businesses participating in similar events around the country.

Andy Sinclair, Sinclair Group Managing Director

Cynnal Cymru has trained 548 people since they first introduced Carbon Literacy in Wales in 2017. Up until now, they have primarily provided this type of training for the leadership of local authorities but this is the first time that a course has been delivered for the executive directors of a leading Welsh business.

Lead trainer and Principal Consultant, Rhodri Thomas, explained:

“It’s not easy for executive teams to find the time to ask for training. It shows a level of humility, but it is also bold. In fact, it’s a sign of true leadership – being willing to learn in order to improve, innovate and ultimately succeed.
“The Sinclair Group recognises that this is a hugely significant moment for the motor industry. We must stop using fossil fuels – petrol and diesel, but can we really expect people to give up the convenience and freedom of personal mobility? We are on the verge of a revolution in transport and the Sinclair Group wants to lead the way by providing solutions for customers but also ensuring that their own behaviour is exemplary. Carbon Literacy is the perfect tool for bringing about this profound change in business culture.”

Rhodri Thomas, Lead Trainer and Principal Consultant, Cynnal Cymru-Sustain Wales

The National Botanic Garden of Wales provided a fitting location to host the landmark event.


“It was great to welcome the Sinclair Group to the Botanic Garden and help celebrate a real ‘first’”

“We were delighted they chose us as the venue for their milestone ‘seize-the-day’ moment.”

Huw Francis, Director, National Botanic Garden of Wales

765 Citizens Certified on Carbon Literacy Action Day

On November 1st 2021, to coincide with the first day of negotiations at COP26, Carbon Literacy Action Day took place as a fully inclusive and open to all climate education action. We witnessed thousands of people from all walks of life, sectors, genders, ages and nations all around the world, participate and complete their days’ worth of Carbon Literacy training.

Virtual visits to courses and initiatives were live-streamed throughout the day, and at 17:00 GMT a virtual global tour via Zoom was commenced, giving participants and their groups the opportunity to share some of the best actions coming from their learners. At the same time, the total number of learners participating in the Action Day was being tabulated and actions counted with estimates of the predicted amount of CO2e saved as a consequence.

765 citizens received Carbon Literacy certification on this one day, across the globe as part of the largest ever low-carbon climate education day and developed a greater understanding of climate change and how to take immediate and effective action to tackle the climate crisis.

Cynnal Cymru-Sustain Wales are the partner for the Carbon Literacy Project in Wales, and you can read about our contribution to the tally in collaboration with members Sinclair Group.

The total of organisations with employees who have completed Carbon Literacy training with us in Wales now stands at 116. This has resulted in 548 certified citizens and 1096 actions pledged.

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