Countries need to act now to address climate change and there is a need for collaborative approaches that connect citizens with policymakers to create sustainable solutions. The Paris Agreement notes that countries should “reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible” and “undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science.”

With this is mind, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), a UNAI member institution in the United Kingdom, has partnered with The Carbon Literacy Project to promote an economy based on low-carbon energy sources with minimal greenhouse gas emissions, in particular carbon dioxide.

The partnership seeks to activate a wide range of stakeholders to create a low carbon culture by making climate change education accessible to everyone. MMU is a pioneer of carbon literacy in higher education as one of the world’s first universities to help students become carbon literate through its innovative peer-to-peer Carbon Literacy for Staff and Students (CL4SS) training model.

This training model has enabled over 1,400 students to achieve a Carbon Literacy certification. The training is embedded in a range of academic programmes across the university, and is available to students and staff as an extracurricular activity, ensuring all members of the institution are prepared with the necessary skills to support the transition to a low carbon and sustainable economy and more importantly, to take action.

In 2020 eighty senior staff received student-led carbon literacy training. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university developed a digital service to enable students and staff to access the training programme online. Participants undertake a series of interactive modules with self-learning and online workshops structured around group discussion and game-based activities.

In addition, the university has trained over 2,400 participants and over 240 trainers, who have worked with civil society and cultural organizations to deliver carbon literacy training to more than 7,500 further participants at the community level. The CL4SS training model has been shared beyond the MMU campus with a training toolkit disseminated to several dozen universities and colleges in the United Kingdom.

“We provide all the resources for staff and students to build their understanding of climate change and empower them to take action and influence others,” said Dr. Rachel Dunk and Jane Mörk, from MMU’s Department of Natural Sciences. “If more people are educated on this subject, the more positive changes and community support we will see,” an MMU graduate explained.

Carbon literacy training offers the chance to acquire knowledge to cut carbon footprints and the confidence to talk to others about this vital issue. According to The Carbon Literacy Project, MMU has been supporting the concept and delivering training “not just internally to staff, students and stakeholders, but also to external organizations. Its approach, building cascades of training delivery, one cohort to the next, has been instrumental.”