Carbon Literacy Toolkit for Museums

Why Carbon Literacy® for the Museum sector?

The museum sector has a large carbon footprint, accounting for almost a quarter of the CO2e emissions of all Arts Council England NPOs. Once you factor in independent museums, national museums, council-led museums, university museums, historic properties, and regimental museums, you get a sense of the size of the sector’s footprint. As in all sectors, there is a clear need to act now to reduce Carbon Emissions and limit the dangerous impacts of climate change.

The Carbon Literacy for Museums Toolkit is a powerful resource for your museum’s climate action journey – empowering your staff and offering them the skills and confidence needed to take impactful action within your museum. This is achieved through the practical and relevant content within the Toolkit, which provides learners with evidenced examples of carbon reduction actions in the sector, and offers learners the opportunity to develop ideas and solutions alongside other sector professionals. Your staff and volunteers will leave with a tangible impression of the difference they can make, and the steps they can take to get them there.

Carbon emission reduction within museums is not the only valuable outcome of Carbon Literacy for Museums. Museums have a distinct place within our communities and wider society. They act as stewards of heritage, culture, nature and more. They tell the most important stories of humans and our planet. And they engage millions of people each year, both physically and digitally, and are widely trusted by their audience. Museums are therefore perfectly placed to engage with climate change and empower people to reduce their emissions. Carbon Literacy for Museums is a valuable tool in this endeavour, in that it empowers your staff, volunteers and trustees to do this work.

“As a sector with stewardship and community at our heart, we have a responsibility to understand what is happening to our planet, take positive environmental action and engage with our communities in this process.”
– Kaye Hardyman, Museum Development North West

Additionally, the landscape that museums exist in has changed. Major funders of museums, whether that be cultural funding bodies, councils, or universities, expect environmental responsibility to become a core organisational value. Audiences are overwhelmingly in favour of climate action. Carbon Literacy for Museums is an excellent resource to help your organisation meet the expectations of funders and audiences alike, by empowering your staff, and then your wider communities, to reduce emissions and take action on climate change.

Coordination and piloting of the Museums Toolkit have been funded by Arts Council England. The Toolkit has been developed as part of the Roots and Branches project, in partnership with Museum Development North West and Manchester Museum, and has had contributions from a variety of museums and sector organisations throughout the development process.

Key Questions

Who can gain access to use Toolkits?

Sectoral Courses and Toolkits are designed for specific sectoral audiences, and content is matched to the needs of that sector and specific working roles.

As such, materials are only released to organisations that correctly belong to that sector. This is not only because of the need to maintain the quality of Carbon Literacy by ensuring the appropriateness of the content, but because Toolkits are usually governed by Creative Commons licensing agreements and content is owned by contributors who have only given permission for its use, or commercially licensed it for use, in specific not-for-profit contexts. Training organisations or consultants wanting to adopt Course or Toolkit materials or adapt them for new sectors or audiences should in the first instance approach either the course authors directly, or The Carbon Literacy Project.

If you are an organisation that has not had contact with CLP before we will normally have a talk with you by phone or online to understand your plans and connect you up with other organisations and people that may be able to help you. We normally respond to course requests within one working day.

Are they really free?

The Carbon Literacy for Museums Toolkit and all its components are covered by Creative Commons Licenses and the formulations of materials are Copyright © the authors and/or The Carbon Literacy Trust 2022 respectively.

The Toolkit is designed and curated for the purpose of certified Carbon Literacy training within UK Museums and approved partner organisations. The contents are distributed free of charge and licenced (and in many cases sub-licenced) by many contributing organisations for that purpose only. The rights and copyrights of authors and contributing parties still apply.

In other words, the Carbon Literacy for Museums Toolkit is free to use for the delivery of certified Carbon Literacy training within UK Museums and can be used by their appointed training partners to do this. The only external costs for usage are therefore those of certification for individuals, which is the standard £10 per application for UK Museums.

You may not use these materials to generate a new commercial product or sell delivery of these materials outside of UK Museums or to deliver training not intended to deliver certified Carbon Literacy, unless permitted to do so by the copyright holders, see below.

You may be granted rights to use the materials for other purposes beyond the current licences, but if you wish to do so, please contact the Project team via

Making the Case

One of the most common requests from museums is for advice and support to persuade colleagues of the financial case for their organisation to roll out Carbon Literacy; as well as for help or useful materials, to make the initial case for participation to colleagues.

Here are some resources you can use to help you make that case:

Museums Generic Staff Course

Aimed at paid staff, volunteers and trustees working within the museum sector, regardless of role.

The course is one day’s worth of interactive training, designed to be delivered using an online video conferencing platform such as Zoom or Teams. There are currently two options for delivery:

  • Online course with four Modules delivered live.
  • Online course with a pre-recorded video of Module 1 (can be completed in learner’s own time), and three subsequent Modules delivered live. This offers the opportunity to complete Module 1 at a suitable time.

You can choose to deliver the whole course in one day or split the delivery of Modules over multiple days.

Produced in partnership with
Museum Development North West
Manchester Museum

Course development funded by
Arts Council England

Course Overview

"Having completed the Platinum Level of the NUS Green Impact Scheme, we felt becoming a Carbon Literate Organisation was a natural progression for us in order to showcase having a strong commitment to environmental sustainability."

Manchester Museum – Gold

“As a sector with stewardship and community at our heart, we have a responsibility to understand what is happening to our planet, take positive environmental action and engage with our communities in this process.”

Kaye Hardyman, Museum Development North West

I found the experience of being a CLF at Manchester Museum a very positive one. Its enabled me to help staff understand the issues around Carbon Literacy and to give them an understanding of how they can contribute to reducing [climate changes'] impact[s]. Its been a great experience chatting and discussing with a wide range of colleagues and especially seeing those for whom it’s been a real revelation and inspiration to take action. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Michael Whitworth, Manchester Museum

“I feel more confident that I can have conversations that will be inputted into actions, to make a difference on carbon reduction.”

Lynne Emeny, Business Manager at North Lincolnshire Museum

“For me, it’s about how we as individuals can influence so many people to start looking at climate change.”

Angela Routledge, Senior Officer – Visitor Services and Operations at Wakefield Museums and Castles

“I do a lot of climate action in my community, but it is good to think about how I can bring these actions to my museum and have an impact there.”

Claire Evans, Education Officer at Leeds University Library Galleries

Request a Course

To request the Museums Course, please Contact Us listing ‘Museums Toolkit’ as the subject. Please include the following:

  • A recognised Museum email address
  • Why you are interested in this particular sectoral course?

If you’d prefer not to use the contact form, please email us at


For any enquiries relating to Carbon Literacy for Museums please contact us at

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