Standard practice

Sarah Walkley
3 min readJul 9, 2021


Great news! I am officially ‘Carbon Literate’ and I have the certificate to prove it!

My certificate showing that I am Carbon Literate and able to start training others

Now, I have made a number of changes at home and at work that have helped to reduce my carbon footprint, but I am only at the start of my journey. I am sure that there are many more changes to be made and I have much to learn. But receiving acknowledgement that I have met the standard set by The Carbon Literacy Trust is an important step in the process. It means that I am now accredited to be able to deliver Carbon Literacy training to others in my organisation and give them the tools they need to make similar changes at home and at work.

To get my certificate I attended a course run by another company in my sector, AutoTrader. We watched a hard-hitting David Attenborough documentary and then a few more videos during the session. Then we had to get some colouring pencils out and draw the carbon cycle and our own position in it. Finally, using the WWF calculator (, we calculated our carbon footprint and determine what we can do to change it.

It was unlike any course I have been on before and also quite different from what I had imagined reading through the long list of requirements contained in The Carbon Literacy Trust’s standard document. In fact, I had struggled to see how you translate the rather academic standard into something that was engaging, interactive and — above all — positive in tone until I really saw it in action.

And, moreover, how you make it interactive in a virtual environment. AutoTrader have grappled with this during the pandemic. For us, at Autovista, we need to design a course from the outset that works for a virtual organisation.

More shorter sessions is going to be key. The standard stipulates that individuals should undertake a day’s worth of training in total, but staying engaged on Zoom or Microsoft Teams for a full 8 hours is challenging. But to compromise on the length of the course undermines the standard. That would mean that Carbon Literacy, like many of the certification schemes in the sustainability world is devalued.

Amnesty International has shown how schemes like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil have failed to achieve all that they set out to because not all signatories have been willing or able to meet the standard (see The Great Palm Oil Scandal:

I am keen to see Autovista achieve Bronze, Silver and higher accolades when it comes to carbon literacy, but it has to be in the right way.

Not all sessions have to be on the same day, but splitting the session into multiple units requires greater project management to ensure attendees take part in all sessions. AutoTrader have shied away from this, because it is so easy for staff to prioritise day-to-day work issues over the second session. So that is another challenge we’ll have to think about and another reason we have to make it really fun and engaging.

We are also trying to develop a course that is relevant for all employees, wherever they are based in Europe. That means that we can’t just copy what AutoTrader or any other organisation have done. Many of the videos that they showed are not legally available outside of the UK. They can be found on various websites, but not with the permission of the copyright owner. As someone who owes my career to the value of copyright, I don’t want to undermine anyone else’s intellectual property rights.

The answer may be in finding more resources like the Climate Race film ( that have been deliberately developed to spread the message.

However, with the help of the Carbon Literacy Trust, we have a preliminary course outline and have worked out a number of quizzes, games and activities that we will pepper throughout the course, so we are very much focusing on developing our materials. We are hoping to submit them for review in October and gain accreditation this year.

Once approved, Autovista will be one of the first organisations to offer a multi-country training programme under the Carbon Literacy Trust scheme. We will then be quickly targeting Bronze accreditation.



Sarah Walkley

Researcher, writer and crafter who loves nothing more than repairing or finding new uses for things, ensuring we can make best use of the planet’s resources.