Northern Ireland's Department of Agriculture and Environment has invested in a 'Carbon Literacy' project to better inform the public about the climate emergency.
Launching the scheme ahead of the COP26 conference, Northern Ireland Environment Minister Edwin Poots said it was important every generation was educated to understand climate change, its causes, potential impacts and how to tackle it.
“My department is investing in the 'Carbon Literacy' project to help educate this and future generations about the threat of climate change and the impact their day-to-day behaviour has on our climate,” he said.
“Delivered by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, the project will help people improve their knowledge and understanding of carbon and how their daily activities like travel, energy use and food consumption impact on emissions.
They can then better understand what positive changes they need to make in how they live, study and work, both as individuals and organisations, to help in the fight against climate change.
“Whilst we can develop policies supporting this environmental threat, it is important that we also educate our children on how the decisions we make as individuals and a society can help,” added Minister Poots.
Dr. Ian Humphreys, chief executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, whose organisation will deliver the programme, said: “This is great news for Northern Ireland and for our post-primary students. It is very clear that demand for information, training and action is gaining pace as more young people take part in climate strikes around the world.
"This response is understandable given the lack of action on climate change, which is the biggest challenge they are likely to face as future decision-makers, leaders, policymakers and consumers. It is important they are skilled to make informed choices on how they can help address the climate emergency.
“Carbon Literacy Programme training for lecturers, teachers and students is, therefore, needed to better educate and prepare this section of society on the impacts and consequences of climate change and the need for positive action, embedding the right behaviours that young people can take with them through life.
The influence of young people at home and in the wider society has a key role to play in supporting changes to help tackle climate change.”
Carbon Literacy Project
Already established in other regions of the UK, the Carbon Literacy Project accredited programmes are designed to build confidence, knowledge, skills and motivation to empower individuals and organisations to play a crucial role in responding to the climate crisis.
The first group of Carbon Literacy Programmes released in Northern Ireland are for teachers and youth leaders, with further training planned for community leaders, community groups and students.
Minister Poots concluded: “In the year that the UK plays host to COP26 I believe that the initiation and progression of the carbon literacy project will help to provide a lasting legacy beyond COP26.
As Northern Ireland works towards contributing to the achievement of UK Net-Zero by 2050, it is clear that we, as a society, will have to be more aware of how the decisions we take can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"Education of our future generations will play a key role. I know this is an issue that many people care passionately about so I want to harness that energy to make a positive difference.”
Places can be booked for a Carbon Literacy training course here on the Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful website.