What is Carbon Literacy?

Carbon Literacy means being aware of the impact of everyday activities on the climate, and knowing what steps can be taken to reduce emissions as an individual, a community group, or an organisation, and why it’s important that we all take these steps. The actions of individuals can and does make a difference. It’s also completely unique!

Read the information in the green Quick Links Box here —>

When was The Carbon Literacy Project founded? Who owns it?

The CL Project was founded by Cooler Projects. Cooler Projects work to create and deliver projects that work towards a low carbon culture. Currently, The CL Project is Cooler’s biggest project, and was launched in October 2012, in Halle Square, Manchester Arndale. As part of Cooler’s work, an independent charity, the Carbon Literacy Trust has been established to own the project on behalf of the people of Manchester.

What does The Carbon Literacy Project do?

The Project aims to give everyone who lives, works or studies, in Greater Manchester and the wider area, access to a day’s worth of Carbon Literacy Training. The project is based on the key aim that if we are to cut our carbon emissions by the sort of reductions demanded of us by scientific fact, we will need to change our culture as well as our technology.

I’m interested in Carbon Literacy training for my school/work/community group, what do I do now?

Great! Let us help you. First of all, take a look at our short presentation. Remember, you’ve got two options. You can become a Carbon Literacy Trainer yourself (you need no specific qualifications, just enthusiasm and an understanding that it’s likely to be challenging), or you can contact us to see if we can pair you and your organisation up with a professional Carbon Literacy trainer. If you’re interested in delivering Carbon Literacy yourself then we’ve got loads of resources on our website to help you create your Carbon Literacy course. The first thing you need to do is read the Carbon Literacy Standard and fill out a Criteria Checker (see Quick Links box for both). This is a planning and evaluation tool to ensure a match between your course and The Carbon Literacy Standard. At any stage, contact us with any questions and to register your interest with the Project.

I’ve decided I want to deliver the Carbon Literacy myself, as the Trainer. Where do I begin?

Start by clicking through our presentation, here. It’ll give you the basics. We currently work with a growing number of Carbon Literacy trainers from many walks of life. Whether you are an enthusiast, a training specialist, an environmentalist, or any combination of these, you are able to deliver Carbon Literacy. Click here to read more about delivering Carbon Literacy to your audience.

I am a Trainer. and I want to deliver Carbon Literacy to my learners via e-learning. How can I do this?

The Carbon Literacy: Knowledge (CLK) E-learning Framework has been developed to assist organisations and trainers in delivering Carbon Literacy. The framework meets almost all of the requirements of the “Knowledge” component of the Carbon Literacy Standard. Read more here.

Tell me about the Train the Trainer course.

Carbon Literacy delivers train the trainers programme subject to demand. If you wish to train a trainer for your organisation or be a certified Carbon Literacy trainer yourself, please get in touch and we will help to make that happen as soon as possible.

What’s a Criteria Checker?

When creating a Carbon Literacy course, the Project needs to ensure your course and teaching materials comply with the Carbon Literacy Standard, and for us to check this you need to fill in a Criteria Checker which essentially a check-list allowing us to match your piece of training with the CL Standard. Carbon Literacy needs to be consistent so that it can be recognised in all the many organisations and communities where it takes root – and that’s why we want CL learners to be certified as having met the requirements of the CL Standard, and for learners to get a uniquely coded Carbon Literacy certificate to evidence that achievement. Click here to read more.

I want to submit my Criteria Checker, what do you mean by ‘supplementary materials’?

Your must ensure your Criteria Checker is returned to us with your attached supplementary material, otherwise we will not be able to approve your course. Your supplementary material may come in many forms, but should include all the materials that you will be using to deliver your course. E.g. Course structure documents, Powerpoint presentations, questionnaires, participant forms, information of activities you’ll be running, links to resources, etc. Please keep these documents as concise and relevant as possible. For example, don’t include individual photos, but rather, put them all in the same document and upload together. Please make sure you refer to the relevant part(s) of your supplementary material in the correct sections of the form.

I understand I have to collect ‘evidence’ from my learners. What does this mean?

Evidence [that a learner has completed and understood their Carbon Literacy learning] must be submitted to the Project within 7 working days of the completion of their learning. The Carbon Literacy Project relies solely on the strength of this evidence to be able to certify an individual as Carbon Literate or not. The evidence can be in the form of a questionnaire, or another suitable document and may be backed up with photographs etc. but the evidence, as a minimum MUST:

a) Demonstrate that the learner has created their own personal action (an action that works to reduce the learner’s own personal carbon footprint);
b) Demonstrate that the learner has created their own group action (an action that works to reduce the carbon footprint of others);
c) Both these actions must be significant. I.e. Reduce a significant amount of carbon and/or be fitting with the societal position of the individual. For more information on this, please read The Carbon Literacy Standard (see green Quick Links box at the top of the page).

How is the Carbon Literacy Project being paid for?

The first part of the co-ordination of Carbon Literacy was paid for by Manchester City Council and Westford Mill, a private sector sponsor. The delivery of Carbon Literacy is being paid for from a wide range of sources but mainly from existing training and education budgets, as the delivery of Carbon Literacy is down to the people and organisations of your area.

What do you mean by ‘appropriately for the world’s first industrial city’?

In 1780 in Manchester, Richard Arkwright built his first factory for cotton manufacturing by connecting the newly invented steam engine to a loom on a site only a few hundred metres from Cooler’s first offices, in the Northern Quarter. It was the mechanisation of machinery for production and transport that resulted in our present day consumption of the fossil fuels which are driving climate change. It is therefore particularly appropriate for this city to be the source of the Carbon Literacy initiative in the cause of carbon reduction.

How long is The Carbon Literacy Project going to run for? Until we hit the 41% by 2020 target?

The Carbon Literacy Project had an initial plan to run for three years. However, the project has gone from strength to strength, Carbon Literacy is now being delivered across the country and has been delivered internationally -in France and Ireland. We are certainly looking to the future and preparing for growth,  and the project hopes to run for many years to come.

How long will a Carbon Literacy certificate last?

Certificates awarded to individuals will not expire, but it is likely that the core elements of the content will evolve over time, and standards and expectations will rise. When subsequent “upgraded” versions of the certificate become available, individuals may choose to refresh their skills to ensure they retain the latest version. This is particularly likely to be the case if these certificates are used to support the Carbon Literate Organisation (CLO)  status of an organisation.

What do you mean by hard and soft outcomes? (as quoted in the CL Standard)

Hard outcomes tend to be quantitative and directly measurable, for example, the city’s target of a 41% cut in CO2 emissions by 2020. Soft outcomes are no less real but are harder to measure directly, for example, the report by an individual that they had changed their buying patterns to buy more organic food locally.

Is the Carbon Literacy Training a continual programme?

Carbon Literacy training can commence at a time that suits you. A member of staff must first attend a ‘Train the trainer’ workshop, which runs when there is sufficient demand. Upon completing this, the company must create their own training module (or use the e-learning available from Carbon Literacy), get the content approved, and then it’s over to you! Alternatively, a trainer can be used from our certified trainer list on the website. Once someone finishes a finishes their training they receive a certificate to acknowledge they are Carbon Literate.

Is it possible to become Carbon Literate as an individual?

There’s currently no outlet to become Carbon Literate without being part of an organisation. This is something we’re working on. In the meantime, why not consider asking your employer or local community group to get involved?

Have you delivered to senior teams?  How do we gain senior support?

Yes, Carbon Literacy has been delivered to many senior teams. Senior staff are often the first staff members trained, in order to gain initial support and subsequent attendance of less senior staff. Senior staff usually welcome this training, as it sends a strong message about the company’s corporate social responsibility and creates a hub for positive change.

How do you roll-out the training to the staff who are either part-time or are in contract?   

There are two different ways to deliver Carbon Literacy training, through workshops and vie e-learning. Carbon Literacy training must be a full days training with an element of group learning. As e-learning takes around three hours to complete, this gives greater flexibility for learners, which will be ideal for part-time staff and contract workers. The final half a day of training must be done in a classroom based setting in a group, but can be broken down into smaller sessions if desired.

How do you embed Carbon Literacy into the supply chain?

The Carbon Literacy training can be created by a designated trainer within your organisation. As a result, training is tailored to the needs of your company and any supply chain associated with it. The Carbon Literacy Project encourages companies to reach out to companies they work with and recognizes this effort in the gold Carbon Literate Organisation accreditation. An organization could make Carbon Literacy training a requirement for companies they are sourcing products off, providing a good model that environmental awareness is high on your agenda.

What will drive workforces to engage and be motivated to act?

The Carbon Literacy training gives people the opportunity to make realistic, manageable changes to reduce their carbon footprint. There is a focus on positivity and achievable goals throughout the training, motivating people to make small changes to their daily life to reduce their carbon footprint.  The course caters to different learning styles to engage as many people as possible. This ranges from tasks in pairs, in groups, watching videos etc. To maintain enthusiasm, some organisations showcase employees’ pledges, putting it at the entrance to the building. Other participants have created an online platform for discussing the matters about sustainability and update each other on the positive steps that they are taking to reduce their carbon footprint.

What can we do to encourage others to make change, and facilitate behaviour change?

Raising awareness about climate change and sharing your own manageable, positive actions is a great way to encourage change. For example, suggesting people you work with car share with you, or suggesting a ‘meat free Monday’ at home or at work will help to reduce their carbon footprint in a sociable and enjoyable way.


Still got a question? Contact us!