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Empowering Change: The Role of Carbon Literacy in Building a Sustainable Future

Today is Carbon Literacy Action Day, the world’s largest climate education-and-action training event.

Timed to coincide with COP28, it aims to bring together thousands of individuals to complete their Carbon Literacy training on the same day. “While world leaders gather to discuss and negotiate on climate policy in Dubai, UAE, Carbon Literacy learners will be on-the-ground learning, collaborating and becoming empowered to take impactful action on climate change.”

To be carbon literate means to be aware of the emissions and impacts of everyday activities and, most importantly, to be aware of the actions possible to reduce these on an individual, community and business level and to be empowered to take positive action. The Carbon Literacy Project provides a training programme and accreditation for any individual or organisation to become carbon literate. Organisations can also become accredited as Carbon Literacy Training Organisations. Find out more on the Carbon Literacy Project website.

Delivering change

One of the most often asked questions on our Communications and Behaviour Change webinars is ‘how do I encourage my employees to make the changes I need them to?’. Building awareness and understanding is critical to that – without those two in place, everything will be more difficult. The enormity of climate change often leaves individuals feeling powerless, but initiatives and training courses like Carbon Literacy not only help individuals better understand the issues we face so they can more accurately advocate for change, but also show there are practical, everyday solutions that they can be a part of.

SWM and its membership are experienced advocates for the pivotal role education plays in fostering sustainability. One example is Highly Sprung Performance:

“Most of the management team and some of the Board had Carbon Literacy Training and as a result we are more confident in engaging with the children and young people we work with around the topic. With so many young people feeling overwhelmed by the challenges around climate change, we feel better able to educate and encourage a positive, action oriented response that delivers tangible results.”

Outside of Carbon Literacy training, other members such as Whistle PR have developed their own programme to train their employees in the importance of sustainability:

“As an agency offering sustainability PR, we felt it was important to upskill some of our team through IEMA training, so they had a wider sustainability knowledge. They then bring that knowledge back into the agency so that everyone has a clear understanding of the importance of sustainability for our business and our clients.”

As a legacy of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the West Midlands Combined Authority created a free Carbon Literacy Training Course, open to anyone in the region with a focus on the causes and impact within the West Midlands:

“Without knowing about the causes of climate change and the impacts we will continue  to experience, it would be difficult for people to know what actions they can take, and the need for these… Carbon Literacy Training leaves people with an understanding of the carbon costs of our lives. As the training is available to anyone, for free, across the West Midlands, this is a great opportunity for organisations to bring their employees along on their sustainability journey with them.”

Other SWM members, including Sustainability Changemakers and the Zero Carbon Academy, also offer Carbon Literacy training similar training, with some catering to specific industries such as Climate EQ’s which focuses on events.

Carbon Tunnel Vision

It is important, of course, to remember that we need a wider, holistic approach to sustainability and that carbon emissions are just one element. This is the rationale behind Sustainability West Midlands’ Roadmap to 2030. With eight priority areas, from Sustainable Energy to Clean Air & Water to Adapting to Climate Change, the Roadmap is designed to ensure that the path taken to reach net zero by 2050 is far-reaching and also addresses health inequality and drives inclusive growth.


If you are interested in learning more, whether for yourself or your organisation you can find out more about the WMCA’s carbon literacy training here. It is online and can be completed at the learner’s own pace, through interactive e-learning modules and a facilitated online session.

And if you need support in making your sustainability strategy a reality, whether through more effective communications or employee engagement and behaviour change, then get in touch with us at SWM and ask to speak to one of our deeply experienced team.

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