Manchester Arndale and the New Literacy

Literacy is vitally important, informing every part of our lives. But in a world increasingly defined by climate change, there is a new sort of literacy that’s becoming nearly as fundamental: carbon literacy. The Manchester Carbon Literacy Project seeks to bring that understanding to everyone that works, lives or studies in the city over the next three years. It sounds like an uphill battle, but most of the important ones are.

Manchester Arndale is doing its part to participate in the project, which is a cornerstone of Manchester: A Certain Future, the city’s climate change action plan. The initiative launched at the shopping center earlier this week, celebrating 24 of the first “green graduates” who can now go out and share their carbon literacy with the world. This first cohort gathered at the center to toss their green mortar-boards high in the air.

The ceremony was attended by Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, and Professor John Brooks, Vice Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University. Said Leese, “People taking part in today’s event work for a wide range of organisations, demonstrating how this issue affects everyone. Their task is to pass on knowledge about climate change to their peers. There is a real prospect that Manchester could become the world’s first carbon literate city and for the city to be a far better place as a result.”

When Leese says that graduates’ task is to pass on their knowledge, he’s not overstating the issue. The most important, and most interesting, part of the project is that it’s not being taught by experts but Mancunians themselves. Participants are shown how the small changes they can make affect the environment and their lives, and they take that knowledge and pass it on to others, peer-to-peer.

Aside from holding the launch event, Manchester Arndale is committed to the project. It’s one of the pioneer employers training all its staff in Manchester Carbon Literacy. Centre director David Allinson said “Manchester Arndale is one of the largest employment hubs in the city centre with around 10,000 people working here. As the UK’s largest inner-city shopping centre, we have a significant impact on our local environment and are committed to reducing this.”

“As centre director, I am leading by example and going through the Manchester Carbon Literacy training programme with a view to encouraging all our staff to follow suit in the new year. This free training will help provide a greater awareness of the environmental issues we face and how we can reduce our carbon footprint going forward.”

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