The Brief

The NHS has an ambition to become the world’s first net-zero health service. In October 2020, the NHS published its ‘Delivering a Net-Zero NHS’ report, which committed to achieving net-zero for its direct emissions by 2040 and for its indirect emissions by 2045. The report, which outlines a series of pathways for carbon reductions in the NHS, made clear that these targets can only be achieved if supported by collective action from an upskilled workforce.

Carbon Literacy Training aims to generate a shift in attitudes and behaviours towards acting on climate change through a series of informational and collaborative approaches. The training results in participants becoming certified as carbon literate citizens through the submission of an action plan which makes a personal commitment to reducing carbon emissions in their professional roles and groups.

NHS England and Improvement commissioned WRM to organise and deliver Carbon Literacy training to over 120 NHS leaders across the country, including but not limited to Sustainability Managers, Clinical Directors, and Heads of Procurement.

The Solution

WRM adopted The Carbon Literacy Project’s Healthcare Leadership toolkit, developed to the Carbon Literacy standard, for use across 7 full-day sessions of online training. As the delegates involved were from a multitude of NHS organisations and backgrounds, the materials couldn’t be specifically tailored to the needs of certain roles or localities. At the same time, knowledge between NHS colleagues is rarely shared, and the communication of the NHS’s most recent national level plans and progress on net-zero isn’t always received by staff.

WRM designed the training sessions to be informative, interactive, and to offer opportunities for collaboration. WRM worked diligently with the Greener NHS team to include and refine a series of presentation materials to disperse new information amongst colleagues. Concurrently, WRM deliberately combined sustainability and non-sustainability colleagues within the same discussion groups to ensure the sharing of existing sustainability and role-specific information. Through this method, the training sessions served to increase both knowledge and engagement amongst participating learners.

The Outcome

The delivery of Carbon Literacy training to NHS leaders has led to an enhanced feeling of empowerment amongst colleagues and an increased interest in rolling out the training amongst a range of NHS Trusts and Integrated Care Systems. In a post-course survey undertaken by the session’s participants:

  • 94% rated the quality of the session as good, very good, or excellent; and…
  • 87% found the training materials fairly engaging, very engaging, or extremely engaging.

WRM and NHS organisations are increasingly regarding the Carbon Literacy standard as one with solid credentials for those looking to take a reputable approach on sustainable behaviour change and one which provides substantive outcomes amongst employees. The range of actions pledged by the colleagues involved in WRM’s training sessions with NHSE&I will assist them in reducing their carbon emissions in the workplace and are expected to start creating a cultural shift throughout the NHS.

For further information about the benefits that Carbon Literacy can bring to your organisation and the various training packages and formats on offer, please contact our service lead, Matthew Greenhill, at

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