RCE East Midlands - 2021

Carbon Literacy Collaboration – multi-sector climate learning and action in a local area
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Carbon Literacy Collaboration – multi-sector climate learning and action in a local area
Submitting RCE: 
RCE East Midlands
Contributing organization(s) : 
De Montfort University (DMU)
University of Leicester (UoL)
Leicester City Council (LCC)
Midlands Energy Hub (MEH)
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Andrew Reeves
Organizational Affiliation: 
De Montfort University (DMU)
Sandra Lee
Organizational Affiliation: 
University of Leicester (UoL)
Lee Jowett
Organizational Affiliation: 
Leicester City Council (LCC)
Gavin Fletcher
Organizational Affiliation: 
Midlands Energy Hub (MEH)
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Friday, October 15, 2021
SDG 4.7
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
United Kingdom
Leicester and Leicestershire
Address of focal point institution for project: 
De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH, UK
Target Audience:
Community, Higher, Primary, Secondary, Teacher Ed.
Businesses and Local Authorities
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
Leicester is a city in the English midlands with a population of approximately 350,000, set within the county of Leicestershire which has a number of market towns and many villages, within a landscape where livestock farming dominates. The city has two universities, an economy dominated by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and is relatively deprived in terms of income and education compared to many other comparable UK cities.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
Leicester City Council has pledged to aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 as part of its Climate Emergency strategy, responding to demands from citizens and international calls for climate action. Leicestershire County Council also aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions. Achieving this requires wide-ranging changes to ways of working for businesses, energy use in homes (e.g. installing heat pumps to replace gas boilers), behavioural changes (such as switches to active transport like walking and cycling) and improved land management to increase tree cover. The rapid timeline puts an urgent onus and education and outreach across the whole community.
February, 2020
The challenge of meeting a highly ambitious local climate change commitment requires widespread public engagement and education for all sectors of the local area – so that the public, businesses, local government, voluntary sector and students know why this being done, what this means for them and how they can play their part in supporting the collective effort. With so many sectors and audiences to reach, a collaborative approach is essential to achieve widespread engagement and build momentum so that more and more people and organisations get on board. A key intervention that can have value here is Carbon Literacy Training (CLT) – a day’s worth of accredited learning which is adapted to the local context and co-delivered by peers. CLT addresses the causes of climate change, possible relevant actions and includes action planning for personal and collective initiatives. Members of RCE East Midlands have therefore worked together to deliver CLT to a range of audiences, expanding our reach and activities over time.
Deliver Carbon Literacy Training (CLT) through a partnership of local bodies involved in education (universities, local council, independent trainers and business support agencies). For learners receiving the training, this results in increased knowledge on the causes of climate change and how to personally and collectively take action.
Disseminate our collaborative approach to others regionally and internationally. For people engaging with our dissemination activity, this results in awareness and inspiration of an effective multi-sector approach to enhancing carbon literacy within a local geographical area.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
Feb 2020-: LCC EcoSchools teams working with both universities to deliver CLT to students. Students then trained to co-deliver CLT in local schools (though delivery was postponed due to Covid-19). LCC further developed CLT materials provided by DMU and UoL to develop a Leicester-specific CLT for local schools.
Feb 2021-: MEH working with DMU and UoL for both universities to deliver CLT to all staff at the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP), which provides business support and oversees regional strategic investments.
Apr 2021-: UoL and DMU jointly deliver net zero workshops as part of a webinar series commissioned by the LLEP
Feb 2021-: DMU, UoL and MEH disseminate the collaborative approach at regional and international events for local authorities, RCE members and universities.
Jul 2021-: Formation of a local network to collaborate on CLT in the local area. Three funding proposals submitted to expand activities and reach in 2021/22.
Size of academic audience: 
Through the jointly-run student-schools training, over 40 students took part and overall 155 people were trained, including engagement with 42 schools. This activity will continue and be expanded in 2021/22.
The LLEP became the first accredited Local Enterprise Partnership in the UK and has made climate engagement and strategy a key part of all teams' functions, as demonstrated by the webinar series on moving towards Net Zero for businesses which it subsequently commissioned. Dissemination activity has reached c. 150 people directly, across the UK and the world, and on a national level has cemented Leicester's reputation as leaders in local adoption of CLT across a region. This led to further work to establish a formal network to enable Leicestershire to become a Carbon Literate region and further planned work (beyond this first phase of the project) to deliver CLT to large businesses, healthcare agencies, the voluntary sector and local citizens.
Lessons learned: 
This project has demonstrated a novel collaborative approach that draws upon the strengths of RCE networks - enabling stronger impacts through working together across sectors. This has been supported by having formal/informal local networks (in addition to the RCE) that ensure that people from these organisations regularly meet and explore collaborative opportunities. Our key challenge which we are working together to address, is to translate the motivation and commitment unlocked by Carbon Literacy Training into action by individuals and organisations, by creating a local support structure and unlocking funding (both locally and nationally).
Key messages: 
The approach on this project is highly effective because of the collaboration across sectors – ensuring close working between those concerned with developing carbon literacy of businesses, citizens, schools, the voluntary sector and more, and as a result, enhancing the relevance of our training and the reach within the community.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
This initial work has established strong foundations for a more-ambitious phase where Leicester and Leicestershire aspires to be the UK’s first ‘Carbon Literate County’. This will establish a more formal partnership for CLT providers (both universities, city council, independent trainers) that functions as a go-to place for learning about the climate emergency and how to take action, targeting all local sectors – citizens, large businesses, SMEs, public bodies and the voluntary sector. In parallel the approach of training students to deliver CLT in schools will continue throughout 2021/22. Both universities plan to collaborate in 2021/22 to develop and deliver CLT for specific key local sectors (healthcare / textiles / voluntary sector).

This activity builds upon a wide-range of climate education activities developed by members of RCE East Midlands over recent years, including the "How Bad Are Bananas" carbon footprint game (by 'Future we Want') and other projects with schools including on Bio-mimicry and Urban Science (by Margaret Fleming Associates and others).
Leicester City Council were funded by NAEE (National Association for Environmental Education, UK) to work with local universities to deliver CLT to students and schools.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon carbonliteracy.jpg (248.98 KB) Students Taking Part in Carbon Literacy Training Leicester City Council
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all 
SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all 
SDG 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation 
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
Curriculum Development 
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Developing capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level