POSTED: June 5, 2018
CC.0 :: Erik-Jan Leusink /

Defining and promoting carbon literacy

Seminar with Rachel Howell
Thursday, 28 June 2018

Given government policies and public discourse aiming to change everyday behaviour so as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, individuals are increasingly encouraged to understand how their activities contribute to such emissions, and how they can reduce their personal carbon footprint. This implies a need for ‘carbon literacy’, a term that has emerged in the literature in the last few years without being formally defined. This seminar proposes a definition of carbon literacy and compares this with other, related concepts. We will consider the question of whether the definition should include a normative element relating to action and/or attitudes. I then present the results of two qualitative studies in the UK that reveal how three mechanisms help to increase carbon literacy. The different aspects of carbon literacy that these mechanisms contribute to are highlighted. The implications of these findings for policymakers and others who wish to promote carbon literacy will be discussed.


Dr Rachel Howell is a Lecturer in Sustainable Development at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focusses on human and social dimensions of, and responses to, climate change and energy use at different sites and scales including the individual, society, and policy and governance. Rachel is an interdisciplinary environmental social scientist, interested in insights from many disciplines including sociology, psychology, human geography, and behavioural economics.


Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity
Room 22 BA 02
University of Surrey
Guildford GU2 7XH


Thursday, 28 June 2018


All are welcome and no registration is required. For further details, please contact Catherine Koch.

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