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News release from: 29/09/2023

Carbon Literate certification for Council

Carbon Literate certification for Council

South Cambridgeshire District Council has been accredited as a Carbon Literate Organisation by the national charity, The Carbon Literacy Trust.

A logo with icons of several people in. There is a speech bubble that says 'Carbon Literate Organisation - Bronze' within that speech bubble.

The District Council has achieved Bronze accreditation as part of its continuing efforts to tackle the climate emergency in South Cambridgeshire. The accreditation is a signal that the Council is now even better placed to consider climate impacts in how it delivers services and supports residents.

The Trust say that Carbon Literacy (R) is a term used to describe an awareness of climate change, and the climate impacts of mankind’s everyday actions. The term has had occasional use in scientific literature and casual usage but now is exclusively associated with The Carbon Literacy Project.

Greater Cambridge Shared Waste's second fully electric bin lorry on a street in ElsworthSouth Cambridgeshire District Council has joined the growing numbers of national and local public sector organisations and businesses that have received the accreditation. It has been achieved by a cohort of staff at a variety of levels taking part in bespoke Carbon Literacy training, including the most senior, decision-making members of staff.

So far, 35 staff have been trained with 17 formally certified as Carbon Literate by the Trust. The 18 staff yet to be formally certified continue to progress towards their qualification.

The Council’s target for a 45% reduction in carbon emissions by 2025 and a 75% reduction by 2030 are supported by its ‘Being Green to our Core’ business plan priority.

This means action to tackle the climate emergency must be taken in all services across the organisation. However, it was identified that officers in many service areas may not have felt confident enough to consider action on climate change within their roles and projects. Dedicated Carbon Literacy training courses have therefore helped train staff to act on climate change within their day-to-day roles. It also means they can properly consider potential projects which could reduce emissions both within the Council and wider district.

Cllr Brian Milnes standing in front of a bin lorry.

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Brian Milnes, said: “If we are to cut our carbon emissions significantly to combat climate change, we need to change our behaviour and culture as well as our technology. This is about the Council overall becoming more knowledgeable – and in turn being able to pass that knowledge on locally to communities. Having declared climate and ecological emergencies several years ago, this Carbon Literacy training is another important part of our efforts to tackle the climate crisis on a very local level. But we know that we need to do more – and faster both on a local and national level. Councils are uniquely placed to help communities face up to the challenges of climate change and I’m proud that we have growing numbers of staff now ready to play a key role.”

Vydune Zlabyte, Carbon Literate Organisation Coordinator at The Carbon Literacy Project, added "We are delighted to announce South Cambridgeshire District Council as our newest Carbon Literate Council. Through certifying their Chief Executive and conducting internal Carbon Literacy training sessions for their staff, a growing commitment to sustainability within the council is clear. Notably, the establishment of an internal group for Carbon Literacy alumni demonstrates their commitment to fostering support and accountability in their climate action efforts. We look forward to hearing about their future Carbon Literacy plans and their participation in Carbon Literacy Action Day this December."

South Cambridgeshire District Council declared a climate emergency in November 2019, and an ecological emergency in July 2019. Since 2018, being Green to our Core has been a Business Plan Priority, delivered on through the Council’s approach to reducing emissions through mitigation, adaptation, and natural solutions across all areas of influence.

The Council adopted South Cambridgeshire’s first Zero Carbon Strategy in May 2020. This sets out the need to halve net carbon emissions in the district by at least 2030 if not before, and the Council’s plans to support this. In February 2021 the Council created a 'Doubling Nature' strategy, a sister document to the Zero Carbon Strategy, setting out an approach to increasing wildlife-rich habitats, tree canopy, and access to green spaces in South Cambridgeshire.

In the past five years, the Council has handed out more than £500,000 in Zero Carbon Communities grants to community groups who work to tackle climate change in their village or town. The waste service that the Council shares with Cambridge City Council – Greater Cambridge Shared Waste – now has three electric bin lorries as part of its ongoing work to decarbonise the fleet. The District Council has also dramatically reduced the carbon emissions associated with its main office through the greening South Cambs Hall project

Find out more about what the Council is doing to tackle the climate emergency locally.