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Why is CL Certification Important?

March 2022 by Ned Gatenby

Carbon Literacy differs from run-of-the-mill training because it is designed in such a way to provide up-to-date information about climate science and impacts, and to ask the right questions so that learners taking the course are given the power and agency to recognise their role in moving towards a low-carbon society. The goal is for learners to emerge motivated and with a sense of agency to take climate action in ways that are most suited to that individual’s personal circumstance.

Certification is part of the Carbon Literacy standard for good reason; unlike other training courses, the CL certificate is not just a recognition of participation. The certificate transforms the course from an educational tool into a recognised qualification and represents a robust understanding of the climate context of each learner’s day-to-day life, and a commitment to recognise ways to adjust our behaviour to reduce our carbon footprint, as well as influencing our social and professional circles. It is this influence that mobilises wider change and supports a cultural shift away from fossil fuels. By dedicating part of the training to considering, designing, and developing action pledges, we support learners in taking effective steps to begin or continue their low-carbon transition.

It is through this process that we encourage each person’s first steps on our collective journey towards zero carbon; reinforced in each learner by the awarded Carbon Literacy certificate. As with other qualifications, Carbon Literacy training doesn’t produce Carbon Literate citizens without issuing official certificates.


Learners who participate in the day’s worth of training deserve an award for their successful engagement with Carbon Literacy and the wider climate emergency. A certificate stating that they are Carbon Literate is a tangible reminder of their commitment to reducing carbon emissions, in whatever form this action might take. For those learners who are keen to maximise their carbon reduction potential, the certificate can act as a tool for holding oneself to account, to both complete their two pledged actions, and continue this energy to take ongoing action to address the current and emerging challenges in the climate crisis. The certificate can also lend to a sense of inclusion in the ever-growing Carbon Literate community.

Both students and professionals that are keen to lend their skills as a Carbon Literate citizen to current or future employment, can add Carbon Literacy to their CV, and evidence this with their certificate. Employers are increasingly looking for candidates with environmental (and specifically, climate change) expertise or experience; Carbon Literacy certificate holders can demonstrate their commitment to supporting their employers’ decarbonisation objectives. This offers them a way to sell themselves as an asset to potential employers.


There is great value in organisations certifying their staff and leadership teams. Firstly, in reducing the organisation’s carbon footprint. As teams become Carbon Literate, they recognise common objectives when it comes to reducing our impact on the climate and feel motivated to support and contribute to organisational objectives that relate to reducing carbon emissions or adapting to the changing climate. Carbon Literate leaders, managers and board members have greater decision-making powers and can use their influence to mobilise organisational shifts away from fossil fuel dependency and high emissions operations. This collective approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions can improve team-working among staff members, as well enjoying the competitive side if Carbon Literate actions are measured against KPIs or other performance indicators.

The second great benefit is in public image. Carbon Literacy is a trusted standard that is never greenwash. We take great pride in maintaining this quality through consistency in our rigorous criteria checking and certification processes. At the time of writing, over 27,000 individuals have been certified after being trained with an accredited Carbon Literacy course. Our work is recognised across the UK, as well as reaching across Europe, the USA and beyond. By certifying your learners through submitting evidence of course completion, you are demonstrating your commitment to not only address your own climate challenges but in support of The Carbon Literacy Project in our work to help everyone address their own climate challenges too. To encourage and support organisations to this end, we have the Carbon Literate Organisation (CLO) award. This can be achieved at Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum level and is an easy way to showcase your climate commitments to your stakeholders and market competitors, meaning you can stand out from the crowd as a pioneering organisation in your sector.

The Carbon Literacy Project

As a self-funding non-profit organisation, we rely on the revenue generated from the certification fee to support our staff and make all of this happen. We are a ‘culture change project’, with a goal of inspiring a shift in our collective consciousness that will benefit both those that engage with the Project and those that do not. Without the income from certification, it would not be possible for us to continue in our efforts to educate, motivate and coordinate people. With the urgency that the Climate Crisis demands, we must not fall short of these resources and become unable to deliver our services.

Certification also matters to us because it is one of the ways we can ensure consistency and value in what it means to be a Carbon Literate citizen. Once a learner has been awarded a Carbon Literacy certificate, not only do you know that they have attended an accredited training initiative, but also that they are committed to going forward and addressing climate change through action and advocacy. If learners were to attend training and automatically be awarded a certificate without having their action pledges reviewed by our certification team, the Carbon Literacy certificate would not be the distinguished award that it is now. For us, and the planet, there must be more than just learning, there needs to be action, and our certification requirements ensure that Carbon Literacy training meets this need. Carbon Literacy is not about making the future less bad than it might otherwise be, it is about imagining a future better than the world we currently live in and contributing in our own way to achieve that vision.

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