Case study

Helping people and organisations become more carbon literate

Derby Business School is rolling out carbon literacy training to health providers and business leaders, as well as its own staff and students. This training aims to make people more aware of how their everyday actions impact on the climate, and how they can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

What is carbon literacy training and accreditation?

Since 2021, we have been developing carbon literacy training in conjunction with the Carbon Literacy Project (CLP): a huge collaborative project working to advance understanding and action on climate change. CLP was recognised by the UN at COP21, where it was named one of 100 worldwide Transformative Action Programs. 

Our carbon literacy programme also builds on materials from the UN PRME carbon literacy training as well as other universities. 

During the training, participants learn how climate change affects them and the people around them. They develop the knowledge and skills to be able to lower their carbon footprint at home and at work, and to help others do the same.

Participants develop a personal and group Climate Action Plan, and complete a carbon literacy training evidence form, which is submitted to CLP for assessment. If successful, the person gains carbon literacy certification.  

CLP estimate that by going through this process, each person will make carbon savings of between 5-15%.

Training for health providers

Orla Kelleher, Senior Lecturer in Responsible Management, has been working with Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (DCHS), to develop a bespoke carbon literacy programme for its staff. This was delivered to a small pilot cohort initially, with the plan for DCHS to then cascade it through the rest of the organisation.

Orla explains: “As well as addressing carbon literacy, it focuses in on the link between climate change and health and had a module specifically focused on DCHS’ specific climate change priorities.” 

“The training attracted interest from other NHS trusts and is now set to be delivered to other staff working across all of Derby and Derbyshire’s NHS trusts, starting in January 2023. This means carbon literacy will reach a much bigger audience, which is fantastic.”

Mark Armstrong-Read, Sustainability Manager for DCHS, commissioned the programme and was one of the first to go through it, as part of the pilot cohort. He said:

“[The programme] provides both an excellent background into the issue, but also useful information and tools to help you make changes in your own life and at work.”

Emma Dowse, Records Archivist, was also part of the pilot cohort. She said: “I have learned not to accept people’s ambivalence towards climate change and apathy/ambivalence. I have learnt that I can be an influencer and constructively challenge and educate people in my sphere of influence to make changes.”

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Training for business leaders

We are also extending carbon literacy training to business leaders, through a new MSc in Sustainable and Ethical Business Management, which is expected to start in March 2023.

This MSc is for business leaders who want to learn how and why to implement responsible business practices that align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Carbon literacy training, and the opportunity for learners to become Carbon Literate Certified, is included in the MSc. We also hope to run standalone carbon literacy training for SMEs in 2023.

Training for staff and students

Carbon literacy is obviously vital for academic staff, who are teaching the next generation of business leaders. The College of Business, Law and Social Sciences has pledged to become a Carbon Literate Organisation by December 2023 (accreditation which is awarded by the Carbon Literacy Project).

As part of this, we have committed to ensuring that 80% of academic staff become Carbon Literate Certified by 2024. So far, approximately 20 employees have already completed the training and a further 23 are currently working through it.

Importantly, we will provide a carbon literacy support hub to ensure staff action plans are implemented and that positive changes are sustained. This is part of our new Sustainable Futures Staff Academy, which is being set up to help embed sustainable development and the principles of responsible management education within the organisation.

In addition, we will develop a new ‘Responsible Business’ portfolio of courses by 2024, which will fully integrate the UN SDGs, carbon literacy training, and relevant sustainability skills. This will ensure our business students graduate as carbon literate individuals, who can bring about change in the organisations they go on to work for, or lead.

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