Carbon-cutting Cascades

Carbon-cutting Cascades

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A new selection of train-the-trainer courses from CAT combines our solutions-focused approach with Carbon Literacy accreditation to help embed evidence-based action planning across a range of sectors. Amanda Smith reports.

We are delighted to be working with the Carbon Literacy Project as part of our Zero Carbon Britain programme to offer accredited Carbon Literacy training with a zero carbon flavour.

The Carbon Literacy Project has always been about collaboration, right from its inception in 2013. It involves people and organisations from all sectors and walks of life working together and contributing time, materials and funding to advance understanding on the climate emergency and the solutions it demands.

The project aims to advance the education of the public in the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment through the dissemination of Carbon Literacy.

This aligns closely with the aims of CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain Hub and Innovation Lab, which are to improve the capacity of councils, communities and other organisations to turn climate emergency declarations into action, reduce emissions and create systemic change in support of mitigation of and increased resilience to climate change and biodiversity loss.

Building knowledge, skills and confidence

Across all sectors, from health and safety to data privacy, changing how we do things requires training – rising to the climate challenge is no different. The training that we offer through CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain project is inspired by our research into net zero scenarios, and is designed to increase knowledge, skills and confidence in tackling the climate emergency.

Our collaboration with the Carbon Literacy Project offers a ‘train the trainer’ model, with the aim that training then ‘cascades’ through an organisation as it is shared widely by course participants on successful completion of their own training.

Aerial view of a town with Zero Carbon Britain logo

What is Carbon Literacy?

Carbon Literacy is described by the project as:

‘An awareness of the carbon costs and impacts of everyday activities and the ability and motivation to reduce emissions, on an individual, community and organisational basis.’

It’s about relevant climate change learning for everybody. As of July this year, 19,000 citizens had been certified as Carbon Literate.

Exploring solutions

CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain scenario offers an end-point vision of what energy, buildings, transport, industry, diets and land-use could look like in a zero carbon future, enabling people to visualise how we might rise to the demands of climate science. It helps to reduce fear and misunderstandings and open new, positive, solutions-focused conversations.

Our new Carbon Literacy Project accredited online course will explore the solutions offered by the Zero Carbon Britain scenario. Drawing on case studies and real life examples, we’ll look at practical steps to reach net zero. Our initial course looks at this from a local authority perspective, and we are developing other courses including Carbon Literacy for individuals, Carbon Literacy for the retail sector, and other customised, audience-specific training.

Each of the Carbon Literacy courses that we offer follows a similar format. Key elements include delivery by peers and group enquiry and discussion. Critically, the training is all solutions-focused.

During the course participants commit to two carbon reducing actions, one as an individual and one that will influence their organisation. We encourage these to be work-based actions in order to support low carbon culture change within the sector that participants work in.

Training is often more effective when it comes from colleagues familiar with a sector so that conversations around solutions can be tailored to suit specific circumstances. Actions will be evaluated by the Carbon Literacy Project in order for participants to be certified as Carbon Literate, enabling them to go on to train others in their sector or area of work.

We are a small team and we know that we can’t train everyone! The train the trainer model enables our Zero Carbon Britain training to reach further into every sector.

Training for local authorities

Our first Zero Carbon Britain Carbon Literacy course was specifically developed for those working in local authorities. This online course covers the science of climate change, local and global impacts and how these will affect the work and duties of local authorities.

Drawing on our Zero Carbon Britain research, we’ll look at low carbon objectives in the local authority sector, and participants will begin to create an action plan to influence others.

This online training is suitable for all roles within a local authority, including elected members, officers and leaders. Across the day there will be timetabled discussion and reflection sessions, Q&As, networking and offline breaks to keep the online format refreshing and engaging.

Screenshot from Zero Carbon Britain: Live Online
Screenshot from Zero Carbon Britain: Live Online

COP26 Carbon Literacy Action Day

Our first course ran over two mornings on 8 and 9 September 2021, with further courses starting on 1 November, 9 December and 3 February.

The November course joins the first Carbon Literacy Action Day, which is the largest ever live climate action training event and is being held on the first day of COP26. Training will take place throughout hundreds of organisations with thousands of learners completing their Carbon Literacy training at the same time (17:00 GMT).

About the author

Amanda is CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain Training Manager. She has over 20 years’ experience in teaching, school leadership, adult training and organisational improvement.

Get involved

To find out more about our new training and other ways that CAT is sharing solutions to the climate and biodiversity emergency with councils, businesses and community groups, visit our Zero Carbon Britain Hub and Innovation Lab.

Would your local council or workplace benefit from this training? Please get in touch at

Resources for local authorities and communities

As well as our solutions-based training programmes, CAT also offers a Zero Carbon Britain Resource Hub. This brings together a wide range of freely available inspiration, tools, reports, guidance, training, webinars and more to support local authorities, communities and businesses to take action on net zero.

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