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GM Green Summit 2020 – A CL Showcase

September 2020 by Louise Harling

Over the last 6 months, our work at The Carbon Literacy Project has undergone something of a transition. With the move to online learning and distance delivered training, we thought that the Greater Manchester Green Summit 2020 would be a good opportunity to showcase the work that some of our partner organisations are doing, and provide a little insight into the different approaches to this new learning style that are being taken up by a variety of sectors.

As part of Green Summit, we hosted an online webinar with a variety of guest speakers. We heard from a few organisations successfully delivering CL internally – including Auto Trader, BASF, Manchester Metropolitan University, Great Places Housing Group and Stockport Council – who discussed how they use Carbon Literacy training to engage and empower their staff to reduce their overall carbon footprint as an organisation.

We wanted this to be a chance for people to gain an external perspective of Carbon Literacy, from some of the organisations that work to deliver the training. The beauty of Carbon Literacy is how adaptable it is to all organisations, and more importantly, all audiences – making it a great tool to engage your people in climate action!

Christos Tsaprounis – Auto Trader UK

First up we heard from Christos from Auto Trader UK, the first FTSE 100 organisation to deliver Carbon Literacy training to their staff; which, inspired by their neighbours on First Street, HOME, they rolled-out from their Manchester office. The backbone of Auto Trader’s sustainability initiatives comes from their employees. The 815 strong team involved with sustainability are working from the core outwards, to drive change via the individual rather than making the more difficult approach to their higher corporate leads. This is an excellent example of how a large commercial organisation can get to work on creating a more sustainable future purely through employee interest, enthusiasm and engagement. Auto Trader Manchester recognises the importance of engaging individuals to drive and inspire change both in the workplace and at home. They designed their own course to ensure maximum locality to their employees, and have even created initiatives such as office-based ‘Carbon Heroes’. Being a Carbon Hero involves working in groups on workplace actions to make everyday operations of their Manchester office more efficient – dedicating roles to individuals within the workplace has a ripple effect through the employees, working on creating a more carbon-conscious workplace for all.

Jane Mork – Manchester Metropolitan University

Next up we heard from Jane Mork at Manchester Metropolitan University, where sustainability is embedded into all aspects of teaching, learning and operations. Manchester Met has ranked in the top 3 in People and Planet University League for the past seven years. Their aim is to engage all staff and students with Carbon Literacy training, using both online and face-to-face courses designed for specific cohorts and departments. This is an excellent example of how the training has expanded through the University, utilising extracurricular time, first-year inductions, and embedded training within specific degrees to increase participation, all of which contributed to helping them win a Green Gown award in 2019. The university’s Carbon Literacy for Students (CL4Ss) scheme aims to address the future workforce by embedding low carbon attitudes into the students who may, in their future careers, move into management and executive positions. The university feels there is a responsibility to uphold, ensuring its students have background and preparations to deal with sustainability in their future job roles. This is further enhanced by their 6-week Train-the-Trainer programme, upskilling students to deliver the training and gain advantageous teaching and leadership skills. Not only can this offer students paid opportunities, but also provides valuable employability skills. You can find out more about CL at Manchester Met here.

Tony Heslop – BASF

Tony describes Carbon Literacy training within their organisation as “the right thing to do”. BASF as an organisation has a particular interest with Carbon Literacy due to the energy-intensive nature of the chemical industry, making their internal carbon savings even more significant. BASF highlights the importance of investing in game-changing low-carbon technology to reduce emissions at a wider scale. However, their approach to Carbon Literacy is to engage employees who aren’t directly involved in sustainability – after all, this audience type is probably the individuals who we need to address the most. By doing this, BASF highlights the importance of making head office policy meaningful, ensuring low carbon directives are at the heart of all decision-making tools. They’ve recently converted their training into distance delivery, consisting of an online module-based system. Despite some initial technical issues (which I’m sure we’ve all experienced of late!) the course flavour is the same and is being well received by employees. Trainers at BASF have reflected that they’re particularly pleased with the change they see in learners throughout the course. At the beginning, learners are often confused and unaware of their power to drive change, however, upon completion, employees leave feeling inspired and well-informed about what they need to do to drive positive low-carbon change within their workplace and communities. Mission accomplished!

Sarah McClelland – Great Places Housing Group

Great Places Housing Group have been using their Carbon Literacy training to engage staff and demonstrate how climate change is directly impacting their operations and their residents. This is particularly important for the social housing sector who are working with vulnerable communities, which are often amongst the least resilient to adapt to the negative impacts of climate change. As such, staff awareness is key for Great Places. Their induction scheme, which embeds Carbon Literacy training, ensures all new employees receive a days’ worth of climate change education – so far the feedback from learners has been excellent. Much as the trainer experiences of BASF, Sarah describes learners as having a ‘lightbulb’ moment of realisation, where their potential to drive change becomes obvious. Their training places emphasis on significant action (a requirement of the Carbon Literacy Standard), making clear that actions such as recycling won’t cut it, instead, concentrating on high-impact actions to make effective changes to reach our collective zero-carbon goals.

Daniel Clark – Stockport Council

Despite some connection issues, our final attendee was Daniel Clark from Stockport Council. Daniel highlighted how climate change directly impacts the well-being of a community. Stockport focused on supporting SME’s to develop their own courses and create a sustainable business network, with the potential to inspire significant business owners and members of their communities. Daniel drew attention to the importance of encouraging local climate action groups, using Climate Action Now as a platform to highlight how local thinking can lead to global action. Stockport Council is focusing their Carbon Literacy training on working with businesses in the local area, focusing on behaviour change to see a reduction in overall emissions as a borough.

It was great to hear from such a variety of organisations currently using the Carbon Literacy training model to inspire and engage their people in climate action – creating carbon-conscious employees, students, residents and communities. The recording of this event is currently being edited and approved by the GM Green Summit team and will be made publicly available soon. We will update this blog when it’s available, so do check back if you’d like to watch the event.

For more information about what we do or how we can support your organisation to deliver Carbon Literacy training, please contact us.

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