Episode 201

201 - The Carbon Literacy Episode

In Episode 201 Gary talks with Anne Snelson from Lead With Sustainability. She emphasizes the importance of carbon literacy training in raising awareness and inspiring individuals to make meaningful changes. Anne highlights the significant impact of the transport sector on carbon emissions and suggests sustainable alternatives such as public transport and active travel. She also addresses misconceptions about carbon footprints and the role of individuals in reducing their carbon impact. Anne shares her personal experience of living without a car and encourages listeners to consider the positive aspects of a lower carbon lifestyle.


Climate change is an urgent issue that requires immediate action.

The transport sector is a major contributor to carbon emissions and needs to be addressed.

Individuals can make a significant impact by reducing their carbon footprint through sustainable choices.

Carbon literacy training is an effective way to raise awareness and inspire action.

Anne will be appearing in our later episodes this season with a carbon literacy fact.

Guest Details:

Anne Snelson is founder of Lead with Sustainability, a sustainability, training, marketing and communications consultancy which helps individuals and businesses cut emissions. She is a Carbon Literacy Project trainer for the transport and automotive sectors, has recently passed the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership Business Management course, lives in Farnham, Surrey, has two adult children and a dog named Skye.

Anne's Website

This season of the podcast is sponsored by Zapmap, the free to download app that helps EV drivers search, plan, and pay for their charging.


Episode produced by Arran Sheppard at Urban Podcasts: https://www.urbanpodcasts.co.uk

(C) 2019-2024 Gary Comerford

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Gary C 0:00

Hi, I'm Gary and this is episode 201 of EV musings, a podcast about renewables, electric vehicles, things that are interesting to electric vehicle owners. On the show today, we'll be looking at carbon.

This season of the podcast is sponsored by Zapmap the free to download app that helps EV drivers search plan and pay for their charging. Welcome back everybody to season 11 of the podcast. We hit 200 episodes last season, which I still can't believe and we're still going. Thanks to everyone who listens, subscribes or supports the podcasts via Patreon, or Ko-FI. You are all lifesavers. This season from a sponsorship point of view we have our usual marquee sponsors. And following on from last season we also have a number of episodes sponsors. Our marquee sponsor continues to be Zapmap, for whom we are eternally grateful. But you'll also hear episodes sponsored by a number of different organisations across the season, not many, about one in five. You may also see a few subtle but important changes to the podcast and I want to talk about them here. This season - and hopefully all subsequent seasons - will have a little more of a focus on the renewables aspect of the podcast about renewable electric vehicles, and things that are interesting to electric vehicle owners. The format will change slightly this season in that there will be a new segment included in the podcast, which will be Carbon Literacy fact of the week. This is where you'll learn something that you may or may not know about renewables, and your carbon footprint. And more on that a little later. This season is also going to be very much focused on education as an aspect of evey ownership. Hopefully, we'll be doing an episode where we speak with dealers about the education guide on there. We'll also be talking with EVA England about the education they're providing, especially to people like MPs, and those tasked with putting a political strategy for electric vehicles together. The end of Season roundtable should also be interesting because I'm planning on Well, I don't want to jinx it. But I will hopefully be presenting something that nobody has done before. least for me.

Our main topic of discussion today is carbon. All the talk of climate change can basically be narrowed down to two different aspects. The pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, particulate matter, especially, and the release of greenhouse gases into the air. But inside that latter aspect is a whole different world of situations. Many people intuitively know that we're a carbon based life form on a carbon based planet. But outside that the whole aspect of carbon literacy is something that not many people understand in a great deal of detail. So today I want to talk about carbon literacy. What is it? Why do we need it? What could it mean for us? More reportedly, how quickly do we need to act? We have

Anne Snelson 3:22

, when people think that it's:

Gary C 3:55

So we need to move and we need to move quickly. How?

Anne Snelson 3:59

And that's what carbon literacy project training helps people with in a day, you learn about what's going to make an impact. You think about what in your life, you could change. And I think you do really realise why we need to act now. That's what I love about it, it makes people understand so much more. It made me understand. That's why I'm doing this now

Gary C 4:20

Of course, the underlying aspect of this that is quite important is the belief that climate change is something that is manmade. And we have some sort of an impact over that. So how do we know this is true?

Anne Snelson 4:33

. You look at the graphs from:

Gary C 5:28


Anne Snelson 6:39

billion by:

Gary C 7:34

I know, when I talked with some people about carbon footprints and reducing your impact on the environment, there's always that one person who says, "Yes, but even if I reduce my footprint to zero, it makes no difference is China's opening a new coal mine every day? How would you reply? If I said that to you?

Anne Snelson 7:49

, whereas it was due to be:

Gary C:

China does, of course have a large carbon footprint. And a chunk of that is from producing the goods that we use the Western world. But it's not all that China is going through an unprecedented growth spurt at the moment, when this growth spurt uses millions of tonnes of steel and concrete, both of which are key sources of greenhouse gas. So how much of a problem are we actually talking about? What are the sort of percentages of greenhouse gas emissions by various sectors? ,

Anne Snelson:

Interestingly when I came into this, I knew transport was bad, but I didn't in my head think that it was that bad. And I mean, in terms of carbon dioxide emissions transport is actually in the UK, it, it's 34% of domestic emissions. 34%. So it's by far the biggest sector. I mean, if you take other greenhouse gases into impact into effect on top, you know, like me saying, etc, then that drops a little bit, but still over a quarter of total greenhouse gas emissions. And again, bigger than energy, bigger, bigger than business, bigger than residential, a lot bigger than agriculture. So it is the sector that we need to reduce. And unfortunately, it's a sector that's increasing, we are looking at potentially doubling traffic within the next 25 years. And so it's only going to get worse. And yes, I am a big supporter of moving to electric vehicles. But we also need to move to public transport, we also need to reduce journeys overall. And there are so many things that we should be doing, instead, we should be walking and cycling more. And then if people have to use a car, then please use an electric vehicle if you possibly can make sure that it's charged by renewable energy, if you can, you know, it's almost every stage of the journey, think what you can do. And in terms of public transport, the buses and the trains will be going anyway. So the more people you can get on them, the better they are in terms of emissions, because that every extra person basically reduces the emissions of those vehicles. And they're, they're moving to electric as well, you know, there's lots of electric buses now coming out, which is brilliant. And say, we need to do this we need to do over the next 5, 10 years. And things like the ZEV mandate will help. like leasing models will help with electric vehicles swap over. Things like their businesses moving faster to EVs for their fleets, that will also help to, because then that will hopefully feed into the second hand market. But I would say, it would be good if people started doing active travel, it's healthier for them to you know, it's better for the NHS, if people are walking and fit rather than just jumping in a car, which is just outside their door. So I really would encourage listeners if they can think about the journeys that you're doing. And if you're going by car, you know, car share, if you can, it's much more fun, much more social. And again, you'll be having your emissions for every extra person you you have in your car,

Gary C:

if we stay with reducing our impact. Things like coffee and chocolate have high carbon footprint. So we should cut those out. We should sell our cars no fly abroad. If I was to play devil's advocate, if I was to play devil's advocate, I would say this is just going to make people miserable. Is that really the right way?

Anne Snelson:

Oh, Gosh. That's quite a statement that it makes them miserable. As I say it, you know, I've had lots of benefits from actually living a lower carbon life. I'd say I still I still eat coffee, and I still eat chocolate. So I think everyone just has to think about what in their lives, they're happy to change and try things. You know, in the last year, yes, alright, I gave up my car fairly quickly. That was a reasonably easy choice for me, because I worked remotely, so I didn't need it. I mean, my children are both adults. So they've sort of left home as well. It was something that I could do really easily. For other people, they won't be able to do that. But I mean, if you're a mum with children that go to a club, carshare, you know, apart from running hours every other week, it means that you'll have some time off because somebody else will be taking your children to the clubs, and you'll be saving half the, half the emissions there, you know. So I think we should be careful about thinking that everything that you might do for climate change is going to be negative. I would far rather look at all the positives of - you know - just imagine a world where it's all electric vehicles is going to be quiet and clean. And people aren't going to have asthma problems and they're going to live longer. So, and they're maybe going to be fitter and healthier because they will walk for a train or a bus or whatever, will maybe be more social, because we'll be talking to people more. So there are an awful lot of positive things around this too. And I think people, particularly those that don't want to change it too quick to look at the negatives.

Gary C:

As you mentioned, uh, you famously Well, famous amongst people who know you - sold your car last year, how's that going for you? Was it worth the sacrifice?

Anne Snelson:

Yeah! I mean, it's actually been a lot easier than I expected it to be. I thought that it would be a lot harder. And in fact, in many ways, many journeys are nicer. And other journeys are more fun. Because you actually have to think about how you're going to get to a place. My parents live in Scotland. And if I'm honest, that would have ... that is the the big journey that I was worrying about most. I was saying, How am I going to get up to Scotland, I got on the train, I took make dog on the train. And actually, when I used to drive, I used to get really bad back because it was such a long journey. I really don't think it was that good for me, I would quite often get back from that, that trip to Scotland and I'd have to go lie down for the next few days worry about whether my back had gone. On a train, you can move around, the dog is incredibly social. So I have conversations with people, I had a great conversation with a PhD Chinese student, having just talked about China, and asked him about it, how the government there tells everyone about climate change. And he said "They don't they just make it cheaper". I thought, what a fabulous, answer, you know, they make it cheaper to go by electric vehicle or public transport. They make it cheaper to have renewable energy than to use fossil fuels. You know people are motivated by price. So I just hope that yes, the cheaper Chinese vehicles come over here. And the smaller, cheaper vehicles that are competitive against ICE vehicles, and people start using them, because that would have a tremendous impact. So in terms of things that I hope manufacturers will do, I hope they will move to smaller vehicles that are less intensive on resources, I hope that they will need smaller ones. I mean, yeah, do like me, if you need a bigger car for the holidays, hire one, you know, and you'll find it so much cheaper. That's the other thing. I mean, I'm saving several 1000 pounds a year by not having a car. And that's even with the public transport costs on top. I don't think people realise quite how much you're spending on a car when you have one. And I'm lucky I live a 10 minute walk from town. A 10 minute walk from the station, which does go up to London, it's not the best train service in the world, but it's okay. Buses are appaling but nevermind. And when I want to cycle in, I can take my little dog, he is small, thank God on the back of my bike in a panier. So I, I Take him along in that as well. So I've learned all sorts of things, you know, different ways to travel or different apps to use, I really enjoyed it. And I've got to know my local area better. I missed the seaside. I must admit I missed the seaside. But my parents lived by the sea. So when I go up there, I just make the most of it.

Gary C:

I've mentioned it a couple of times on this episode already. But a lot of this season is gonna be education focused. You provide carbon literacy education, Anne. In fact, I took one of your courses before Christmas and loved it. Now talk to me about the work that you're doing with the carbon literacy training and how that operates.

Anne Snelson:

I love CLP It's what made me act. It's what made me get off my backside and actually do this. Because as I say, you know, I've been kind of keen on it for a few years and thought that I needed to do something. Um, so first of all, my daughter did say to me, I kept saying to her, Wardy, you and Tommy are going to have to sort out climate change. And she said, What are you doing about it, Mum, you're not exactly past it. So okay, that's point number one. And point number two was that when I did the course myself, so I did the online course first of all, which is more detailed, and it has an awful lot of information. But I quite liked doing courses like that. It just really hit me we have to act now. You look at the graphs and you see them going off the scale. You know, the climate scientists were saying that the weather last year, the summer, it was the hottest ever 2023 was the hottest ever in the world. I mean, okay, in the UK, we had hotter the year before when we had over 40 degrees, we should not be getting those sorts of temperatures. And when you look at the graphs, see temperatures, ice melt around Antarctica and the Arctic, the weather, you know, the storms - has nobody noticed that the rain is getting heavier. So what carbon literacy does is it just brings it all together in one day of training. It covers about eight different areas. So it's quite a full on day, I think you'll probably agree. It tells you about the signs it tells you about the inequity of it. It tells you about your carbon footprint and leaves you really to work out what do you want to do. And yeah, you don't have to You're at your car like me, that just happened to be something that I could do. I must admit, I only did that after I did this a second part of the course, which is where you meet with other people, and you do your pledges. So part of carbon literacy is about doing this in a group, so that you get that sort of combined learning. And that's another thing that I really love about it. You know, I get groups of people, and many of them are very, very educated in their particular field and transport. A lot of them are people that are in the sustainability world, the climate change world, you know, in one way or another, a lot of them are from the Evie industry. And they just come out of it going, I need to do something now. And the pledges that people make, they are, you know, the best thing almost about the course, yes, I love doing it. Yes, I love giving it Yes, I love the interactions, and the fact that I learned to virtually every course, you know, I will learn something as well. But they come out of it and they go, I'm not gonna fly to the next two years, I'm not taking my children around holiday, because I'm going to take out my I'm going to use the money to take out my gas boiler instead. And to have that sort of impact in one day, to me is incredible. Alright, that might put people off coming on the course. But I hope not. Because it just shows the strength of feeling of people, once they've come on that course and found out what we need to do, we

Gary C:

have to do. So how often do these courses run? Yeah,

Anne Snelson:

at the moment, I'm running them once a month, that's really just because that's quite a nice timescale, I do do other work as well. So I just have those in the diary, if anybody wants me to do a special course. And I do that on top, I'm doing, I'm running three courses for a company that not mentioned here, but it is in the major industry over the next couple of months. So I'm doing some of that too. And I mean, if I have more demand than I can cater for, I will put in more because I do love doing it. And really, it is just a case of spreading the word. And thank you very much for helping to do that through this law. Very

Gary C:

welcome. My follow on question for you is, you know, if there's a large company listing, and I know I have a number of CEOs who regularly listen to this podcast, how would they go about booking training with you for their staff? What sort of class size would they need and frequency, that sort of thing. Um,

Anne Snelson:

so the courses I do are online at the moment, I mean, I can do face to face, part of the pledge process is that each individual needs to make a pledge, and that is more manageable in smaller groups, obviously online. And the other thing that because of their sort of group interactions, I tend to do 1518 People maximum, because that allows everybody to participate, it allows everybody time to feedback from their groups as well. And to be honest, it's quite a long day, and quite an intensive day as it is. So obviously, the more groups that you have, then the more people you have feeding back, sometimes split it into two days, which makes it easier to half days. So that's what I'm doing for this company that I'm I'm training over the next few weeks. So really, just if they're interested, get in touch with me through the website lead with sustainability.co.uk, I'm sure that you'll put the details up hopefully about where to find that too. So just come through to me add me on LinkedIn and direct message me whatever, I'd love to hear from you. The courses

Gary C:

themselves are run over teams or equivalent and involve a group of people doing interactive sessions, learning and group breakouts. I think when I did it, there were 12 people on the call. So we could break out into three groups of four when required. Now it can be a long day, I think it's around eight hours in total. But if required, these can be split into two half day sessions. What are the things participants will need to do as part of the course is to commit to a pledge. And this can be as simple as cutting down on meat, or a little more involved.

Anne Snelson:

I mean, when I say about the pledges, they're actually called evidence. So it's more about what are you going to do? The evidence is that you've learned about climate change and make a difference. They used to be called pledges. And yes, you are effectively saying that you will do this. So summers around, quite literally is around travel. But I guess that's relatively unsurprising given that I'm running a transport and automotive sector and training piece. Some people choose to move to public transport or set up car sharing schemes and things like that around their their company. So some also go and do things like community activities. So then quite a lot of people come on the course and then think, Oh, that would be a good way of spreading, spreading the word about climate change as well. A lot of people do. Come on and go Alright, I'm going to tell other people about the course which is always nice, quite a few around so I had one chap in Canberra, remember he is going on holiday to Croatia this summer and he's going back to Rain now, which I think will be interesting. So, so he's doing that quite a few people sort of saying that they'll move to an electric vehicle more quickly, as well, once they've realised the benefits of doing that. So just a vast array really, and that's the nice thing about the course that gives you a lot of different options for things that you can do. And I think the motivation out of the closet gives you that thirst for learning more, so you sort of develop that as it goes around. Emma did have one CEO as well, you said that down, she was going to change the manufacturing of that company to make the whole business more electric as well. So some of them are amazing in some of the pledges are just incredible. I've had the editors, magazines and things who I've seen afterwards posted a lot more on LinkedIn and change their business as well to be more sustainable. So it's really what suits you.

Gary C:

These pledges or evidence is actually covered two aspects. There's the personal aspects related to what you're going to do on an individual level. Then there's the professional aspects related to what you're going to do in your workplace. Obviously, the effectiveness of these things relate to your level. The story and just told of the CEO, it was good to change the whole company's manufacturing process to electric is one example. My pledge this year was to promote this aspect of carbon literacy on the podcast, and to provide training and awareness and presence here on this episode is the start of that, and shall be back shortly to fulfil more of my pledge. So to wrap up, as a couple of takeaways from this discussion, it goes without saying that climate change is an urgent issue that requires immediate action. The transport sector is a major contributor carbon emissions, and needs to be addressed. Electric vehicles, or even giving up your car or moving to public or active transport is a great solution where possible, and has done it and even though it wasn't seamless, she's enjoying doing it. And her bank balance is far better off as a result, individuals can make a significant impact by reducing their carbon footprint through sustainable choices. It's not just single use plastics, though, you need to full awareness of what you're doing and what impact that has on your footprint, and provides carbon literacy trading, which is an effective way to raise awareness and inspire action. Links to Anne's website or in the show notes. If you can take the course she provides, I wholeheartedly recommend it. If you work for a company that might like a group of people to take the course. Get in contact with her. And she'll be more than happy to set a course up for you. Many thanks to Anne for her time. Each episode this season, I'm going to provide a carbon literacy fact something to make you go. Oh, I didn't realise that. Now I've asked Anne if she will read these out for me, as she's kindly agreed to do so. So his this episode's carbon literacy fact of the week then.

Anne Snelson:

Did you know transport is the largest emitting sector in the UK. More than a third of carbon dioxide emissions are caused by transport with over 90% of that due to travelling by road. And unlike most sectors, transport is increasing. That's why we need to cut journeys as swapped to more sustainable transport. Now

Gary C:

it's time for a cool EV or renewable thing to share with your listeners. In keeping with the carbon theme of this episode, British band Coldplay created a carbon neutral tour. Their Music Of The Spheres tour was designed to be as low carbon as possible. To achieve this, the band put in place numerous initiatives and tech. They installed kinetic floors and stationary cycles so the fans could generate electricity to power the performance. They moved to battery power and Hydrotreated vegetable oil to power lights and their trucks. They use recyclable materials and Second Life materials to create the set. They ensure venues have plant based and meet free food options, water fountains and minimal single use plastics. They encourage fans to arrive via public transport by offering discounts to those that did they recycled waste and composted food waste and all their merchandise was ethically and sustainably sourced. Obviously, they still had a carbon footprint after all that the most recent sustainability report showed that they produce 47% less carbon dioxide equivalent emissions than their last stadium tour 2016 to 2017. I posted on social media recently whether it might be worth producing carbon accounting reports for all sorts of events, or COP meetings. For example, the Super Bowl ces event in Las Vegas, not as a means of shaming people or pointing the finger pointing the finger but more as a way of informing people to allow them to make potentially a different decision in future about attending attending events such as this or changing the way they travel to an event. What are your thoughts

and that's the show for today. Hope you enjoyed listening to it. If you want to contact me, I can be emailed at evey musings@gmail.com I'm also on Twitter at MusingsEV. If you want to support the podcast and newsletter, please consider contributing to becoming an Eevee musings patron. The link is in the show notes. Don't sign up for something on a monthly basis. If you enjoyed this episode, why don't buy me a coffee, go to KO-fI/evmusings and you can do just that K O - FI. com /evie musings. Takes Apple pay too. I have a couple of ebooks out there if you want something to read on your Kindle. "So you've gone Electric" is available on Amazon worldwide for the measly sum of 99p or equivalent and it's a great little introduction to living with an electric car. "So you've gone renewable?" is also available on Amazon for the same 99p and it covers installing solar panels, a storage battery and a heat pump. Why not check them out? Links for everything we've talked about in the podcast today are in the description. If you enjoy this podcast, please subscribe. It's available on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Please leave a review as it helps raise visibility and extend our reach in search engines. If you've reached his part of the podcast and are still listening, thank you or why not let me know you've got to this point by tweeting me MusingsEV with the words "Carbon Footprints #ifyouknowyouknow. Nothing else. Thanks as always to my co founder Simon, you know he bet me £10 I couldn't tell you who the new ruling party in Hong Kong was I said "it's still not Chris Patton?". And he said,

Anne Snelson:

Gary, Gary, you haven't been reading your Chinese news. You really haven't

Gary C:

That's another one for the older listeners, there. Thanks for listening. Bye!

About the Podcast

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The EV Musings Podcast
EV Musings - a podcast about electric vehicles.

About your host

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Gary Comerford

Gary has almost 30 years experience working with, primarily, US multinationals. Then he gave it all up to do his own thing and now works in film and television, driving and advocating for electric vehicles and renewables, and hosting the EV Musings Podcast.