At COP26 this week, Auto Trader will announce the launch of a new Automotive Carbon Literacy Toolkit, which it has funded and developed in partnership with The Carbon Literacy Trust[i]. The toolkit marks the first of its kind for the automotive industry and has been carefully designed in close collaboration with a number of leading automotive retailers and manufacturers, including Nissan, Marshall Motor Group, Lookers, Motorpoint, AvailableCar and SYNETIQ.
The toolkit is available for any organisation, of any size, working within the automotive industry, and has been developed with the purpose of supporting individuals and businesses in their journey towards reducing their carbon footprint by making the adoption of Carbon Literacy[ii] faster and easier to achieve.
The industry-wide collaboration in its development underpins just how high a priority sustainability has become for many automotive organisations. In fact, prior to the official launch of the toolkit on 10th November, two open pilot courses have already taken place, both of which were attended by a broad range of brands representing the full spectrum of the industry. These include Kia, Vauxhall, Volkswagen Group, Jaguar Land Rover, Stellantis, Arnold Clark, Perrys, Sinclair Group, Drive Green, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, RCI Banque, Dealer Auction, KeeResources, and AutoConvert, as well as Marshall Motor Group, Lookers, and Nissan.
Nathan Coe, the Chief Operating Officer at Auto Trader, which was the first FTSE 100 company to become Carbon Literate, commented on the significance of the collaborative approach to the toolkit: “We’re very proud to sponsor the creation of the Automotive Carbon Literacy Toolkit, and especially grateful for the time and commitment our partners have invested in shaping it. At a time when the world’s attention and hopes for a more sustainable future are directed towards Glasgow, this collaborative effort from right across the automotive industry signifies a vital commitment to addressing the industry’s collective carbon footprint and our shared responsibility in reducing it. We have a long way to go, but given the huge interest we’ve already seen, I believe the toolkit has the potential to make a very meaningful and lasting contribution to the industry’s sustainability objectives.”
The toolkit is designed to support accredited in-house Carbon Literacy training, which is typically delivered during a one-day seminar and can be conducted virtually or face-to-face. The toolkit contains all of the tools and materials an organisation requires to educate and accredit its employees in Carbon Literacy, including tailored training content, a trainer guide, detailed resources, and dedicated support from a member of the Carbon Literacy Project[iii] team which makes it accessible to anybody with good facilitation skills not just experienced training professionals.
The course covers a broad range of climate change related topics centred around the automotive industry. The objective is to create greater awareness of the carbon costs and impacts of everyday activities, and to inspire people to reduce their emissions on an individual, community and organisational basis. Every day's Carbon Literacy ends with a session where learners plan or take their own immediate actions to drive the low-carbon objectives within the business. And with every colleague successfully accredited (each of which will receive an individual certificate of accreditation), the organisation can progress towards becoming a fully accredited Carbon Literate Organisation, achieving key milestones (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum) along the way.
Whilst Carbon Literacy programmes have been developed for a range of different sectors, this is the first such collaboration in the private sector. Dave Coleman, Managing Director of The Carbon Literacy Project, explains: “Whilst the UK Government has funded the development of Carbon Literacy toolkits to speed-up implementation in many areas of the public sector, the Automotive Carbon Literacy Toolkit is really significant as the first such initiative funded by and rolled out in the private sector. The automotive industry is already highly visible as one of the sectors both most affected and having to adapt most rapidly to climate-change and the shift to a low carbon economy.
“Auto Trader's sponsorship of the development of the Toolkit, by and for the sector, means that automotive organisations can now evolve even more rapidly. Using the Toolkit, automotive organisations can educate and inform staff, suppliers and customers, take action, and more rapidly develop the low-carbon culture necessary to transform the industry. Adopting a low-carbon business-model is one of those rare opportunities where doing the right thing for people and planet is also exactly the right thing for the business, the safety and security of jobs and well-being, and ultimately for the bottom-line. The making available of the Carbon Literacy Automotive Toolkit, and Auto trader's support for its free distribution, is a really important lap in the race to zero-carbon.”
Richard Blumberger, Chief Financial Officer at Marshall Motor Group, which has played a key role in designing the toolkit, commented: “We at Marshall Motor Group take our social responsibility very seriously which is evidenced by our commitment to paying back all government support received in 2021 from CJRS and retail grants, to the value of around £4m. Our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint is key to this social conscience; it is just the right thing to do for our colleagues, customers and the communities we operate in. When we were approached by Auto Trader to help shape the Carbon Literacy Project for the automotive industry, there was no hesitation from our part.
“Effecting any sort of change can only be done with the buy in of our colleagues and this is a key topic which everyone feels passionately about. The toolkit will give us a very simple yet effective way to educate our teams and through the train the trainer approach gives us the ability to roll it out in a quick and constructive way. Though we have already started our journey, and an example of this is changing our electricity supply to a fully green renewable electricity tariff, this toolkit will provide a very effective bottom up approach to reducing our carbon footprint even further.”
Andrew Hall, Business Development Director, at Lookers, explained why it chose to take a lead role in designing the toolkit: “Lookers, a UK leading Motor retailer has, along with other retailers, a growing responsibility and unique opportunity to influence fundamental change to reduce Co2 emissions from the vehicles we supply and maintain. Lookers are very proud to have collaborated with the Carbon Literacy Programme, alongside Auto Trader, to develop the very first automotive toolkit to support our industry. The tailored programme is holistic, covering the reality of the global situation and involves all our team members to significantly increase awareness and commit to actions as both a business and individuals to significantly reduce our carbon footprint, whist also bringing this to life for our industry.
"With awareness and actions from the programme combining with Lookers own initiatives, we are committed to meaningful carbon reduction. Lookers, through our teams, will be in the best position to help customers. Removing the myths and being able to answer all the questions surrounding electric cars confidently, with the integrity of real-life experience and the overall awareness the Carbon Literacy Programme provides."
Commenting on what role the toolkit will play in supporting its wider sustainability ambitions, Richard Seaward, Head of Strategic Development, at Sinclair Group, which joined one of the pilot sessions, said: “At the Sinclair Group we want to inspire our staff to understand climate change; their role in it and to make a difference at home and at work - that way we can make a positive change together. From senior management to junior members of staff; engagement and training is essential to achieve the behavioural change necessary to address the scale and urgency of the climate emergency. We firmly believe that the development of the Carbon Literacy course template for the Automotive sector, and its free availability, will assist ourselves and the rest of the industry in this ambition.”
To showcase the toolkit in more detail and to discuss how it can support automotive businesses in their sustainability journey, the Carbon Literacy Project will be hosting a dedicated webinar at 13:00 on the 10th November which is open anyone within the industry. To register, please visit https://bit.ly/CLAutoToolkit.
[i] In 2013, The Carbon Literacy Trust (registered charity number: 1156722) was established and took on all Carbon Literacy Project assets, so that the charity’s trustees could oversee the dissemination of Carbon Literacy across the UK and beyond, for the public good. At the Trustees' behest, Cooler Projects CIC acts as the Trust's project delivery partner.
[ii] Carbon Literacy is: “An awareness of the carbon dioxide costs and impacts of everyday activities, and the ability and motivation to reduce emissions, on an individual, community and organisational basis.”
It is achieved by the testing, assessment and then certification of successful individuals as Carbon Literate after they have participated in a days-worth of learning and climate-change action and planning.
Note: The subject of multiple trademarks, in general usage and specifically within copy, the term Carbon Literacy is correctly capitalised as a noun: It is therefore “Carbon Literacy” not “carbon literacy”.
The Project's Brand Guidelines covering usage of Carbon Literacy terminology and imagery are available at https://carbonliteracy.com/our-brand-guidelines/