What is The Carbon Literacy Project?
The Carbon Literacy Project offers everyone a day’s worth of Carbon Literacy learning, covering – climate change, carbon footprints, how you can do your bit, and why it’s relevant to you and your audience. The Project divides ‘everyone’ into three distinct audiences – those that live, those that work, and those that study. This allows every citizen to be offered Carbon Literacy learning in a way that has immediate meaning for them.
The Project delivers no training directly but works with a host of people and organisations from all walks of life, that all deliver training that is accredited against the Carbon Literacy Standard. The Project then assesses participant’s and certifies successful candidates with their own uniquely numbered Carbon Literacy certificate.
There is nothing else quite like The Carbon Literacy Project. This was recognised by the United Nations at the UN climate negotiations, COP21, in Paris in 2015, where the Project was awarded TAP100 status, – one of 100 projects worldwide recognised as Transformative Action Programmes, that could materially change the way we deal with climate change.
The Carbon Literacy Project has always been a massive collaborative project. It involves people and organisations from all sectors and walks of life working together and contributing time, materials and funding to advance understanding and action on climate change.
The Project is wholly owned by The Carbon Literacy Trust, a registered charity (No 1156722) established in 2013 to take responsibility for The Project in perpetuity, for the public good.
Where did it all begin?
A cross-sector collaboration developed a carbon reduction plan to make Manchester carbon neutral by 2038. The plan was backed by the local government, the Mayor of Manchester, businesses, universities, and community organisations who quickly recognised that in order for the plan to be successful, they needed a method of learning that enabled every individual in Manchester to take positive action in reducing their emissions. That solution is Carbon Literacy.
Where do we come into it?
We discovered the need for Carbon Literacy in Wales in 2016 after meeting with Claire Raisin, the then Director of Size of Wales, and Dave Coleman, the co-Director of The Carbon Literacy Project.
Exactly a year later, we delivered our first certified Carbon Literacy course for the Sustainability Hub of Public Health Wales and since then we have delivered Carbon Literacy training to over 400 people from all sectors and all parts of Wales.
In the three years that we have been delivering Carbon Literacy training, the project has grown enormously to become an international movement with over 16,000 individuals being trained across ten nations.
As the official partner of the Carbon Literacy Project in Wales, and the only Carbon Literacy training organisation that we are aware of, we’re immensely proud to be part of this movement but we also humbly recognise that the ethos of Carbon Literacy is one of sharing and co-operation.
The main course that we run is called “Carbon Literacy in the Workplace” but we also have a certified course for engineers and are developing ideas to engage more general communities whilst exploring the possibility of developing a course for unions as well.
Our approach is to engage with people largely on a sector basis, training some initial pioneer cohorts and subsequently supporting clients to develop their own courses for delivery in-house via a peer to peer cascade.
We proudly helped National Museum Wales start their journey to develop a dedicated course for the museum sector and connected them with museums in Manchester.
Our biggest success however is enabling a consortium of 27 social housing providers to design Carbon Literacy training for their own sector which replicates what has been achieved in greater Manchester.
With support from Linc and the Carbon Literacy Project, we trained a pioneer cohort of 63 individuals and supported a course design team. A further 70 colleagues are now undergoing “train the trainer” with Manchester Metropolitan University and in January, the members will start cascading Carbon Literacy training to colleagues.
It’s an amazing achievement for 27 companies to agree to work with each other like this and there have already been reports from the consortium – known as Carbon Literacy Cartrefi Cymru or CLCC – on the impacts the training has had.
For example, Wales and West Housing reported that they are upgrading their fleet to electric vehicles as a direct result of its senior colleagues receiving Carbon Literacy training from us.
While we have been busy in Wales, the core organisation in Manchester has been even busier. It received funding from the UK Government’s BEIS department to develop a range of courses for public sector professional disciplines. It has already launched the Local Authority Toolkit, and Cardiff Council – who received initial training from us – is preparing to use it to train its staff.
Tim Gordon (Head of Communications and External Affairs at Cardiff Council) attended our carbon literacy training in 2019 and responded with: “A thoroughly fascinating and informative course which will open your eyes to the climate change debate – even if you thought you already knew all about it. It will really make you rethink the way we live life today”.
Tim and colleagues are currently receiving and analysing responses to the public consultation on their draft One Planet Cardiff Strategy: the Carbon Literacy training of all staff is an integral part of the One Planet Cardiff proposal.
Meanwhile, Denbighshire County Council is training their senior management and elected members and we are helping them to develop a Carbon-lite e-learning course.
Newport Council and Monmouthshire Public Service Board are also preparing to initiate Carbon Literacy training with our support.
What’s next for us?
This month we will be running a session for Sustainable Development Co-ordinators Cymru, the network of sustainability professionals in public bodies across Wales. This group will be the first to use our new online learning platform as we convert to a more Covid proof model of learning.
The new website now enables anyone around the world to enrol themselves on any of our courses and undertake a combination of self-directed study with online tutor-led sessions. We will be adding dedicated client-focused courses to the site with a closed enrolment as well as continuing to add open courses that anyone can join.
Our experience with Carbon Literacy has led us to consider the parallels between the climate crisis and the nature crisis and explore whether the same learning approach can be applied to raise people’s awareness of the decline in biodiversity.
The concept of ‘eco-literacy’ is not new but we think we are the first to apply the principles of Carbon Literacy to the challenge.
With the blessing of the Carbon Literacy project, therefore, we have designed a course that addresses the nature crisis following the Carbon Literacy criteria. The course enables group learning and problem solving with a focus on positive action while not hiding the severity of the threat posed by the erosion of natural systems and the extinction of species worldwide.
Participants will be aided in finding local, collaborative solutions to a global problem and to recognise the value of individual action. We aim to pilot the course in the new year and are pleased to have the support of a wide body of biodiversity professionals and interested groups.
Just like Manchester, Wales has its own carbon reductions plans and targets. With support from us, everyone who lives, works or studies in Wales can now become Carbon Literate and play their part in our national story of revival and renewal.
If you’d like to join our next open Carbon Literacy course please email firstname.lastname@example.org