Promoting Carbon Literacy in Pakistan

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Despite its negligible carbon footprints, Pakistan confronts imminent impacts of global climate change of an enormous magnitude. Therefore, climate adaptation is critically imperative for the conservation of country’ environment. Keeping this in view, Pakistan has initiated solid actions to protect its ecosystem and thereby contribute to minimizing the adverse impacts of climate change.
Both climate adaptation and mitigation are reflected in the country’s policy and implementation approach. After the successful completion of Pakistan’s Billion Tree planting drive across 350,000 hectares – the first Bonn Challenge pledge to meet and surpass its target – Pakistan has up-scaled the initiative to the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami. This five-year, country-wide tree plantation drive aims to restore depleted forests and thus mitigate climate change. With the launch of the Clean and Green Pakistan and Recharge Pakistan initiative, the country has taken the lead among developing countries, in ‘nature-based solutions for ecosystem restoration’ with the added benefits of safeguarding bio-diversity and generating livelihood opportunities.
Therefore, in these testing times when the world as we know has undergone instantaneous change, there is no better time to focus on changes that will make the world a better place for all and link the Covid-19 recovery with a transition to a low-carbon economy, while addressing social inequalities at the same time. The entire world has witnessed strong resolve followed by concrete measures in research and development taken by academia as well as industry to find ways and evolve strategies to address the challenges of climate change.
This year UK & Ireland Chapter of PRME-Principles of Responsible Management Education- delightedly announced the winners of 2021 research seed funding competition. The winners emerged from this very strong and competitive field through a rigorous judging process that saw each application reviewed by three independent judges from a panel of five, avoiding conflicts of interest.
There was a rich diversity of topics and methodologies, with some strong pedagogical work as well as projects with specific focus on aspects of business governance or practice. One of these award winner’s proposals was Shajara Ul-Durar’s project, “Sustainable Education: Academic’s role in reducing climate change through Carbon literacy to pave Pakistan on the road of financial development” which stood out for research excellence, potential impact and potential to foster new networks. Shajara is an Early Career Researcher (ECR), academic, and a lecturer in the department of Human Resource Management at Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University, UK.
This project aims to create awareness related to the use and hazards of carbon in Pakistan. The target audience and potential beneficiaries of this valued intervention are the majority who live below the poverty line and are desperately required to be educated. It is earnestly hoped that an increased awareness will help both individuals and organizations reduce the carbon footprints caused by several factors (oil, plastic, greenhouse gases and energy), which will eventually guide the country to the path of economic development in the long run. All this can be promoted through “Train the Trainer Program-Carbon Literacy Training.”
It can increase public awareness at the governmental, organizational, academic, and public levels, making people understand as to how small actions can make huge difference and produce remarkable results.
The aforementioned research is focused on PRME’s first, second and third principles. Principle one encompasses the purpose of this much needed intervention with an aim to developing the capabilities of students to be future generators of sustainable value for business and society at large and to work for an inclusive and sustainable economy. Principle two deals with values and strives to incorporate into our academic activities, curricula, and organizational practices the values of global social responsibility as portrayed in international initiatives such as UN Global Compact. Likewise, principle three focuses on methodology by creating educational frameworks, materials, processes and environment that enable effective learning experience for responsible leadership. The first step was delivering Carbon Literacy Training to academics. It was done by delivering Carbon Literacy Training (CLT) at the University of Management and Technology (UMT), Lahore.
Due to covid restrictions, Shajara delivered the training virtually (online). Forty academics from the business school including the Dean of Business School, Prof Naveed Yazdani along with all heads of various departments and junior academics within the business school attended 4 days training sessions. The training and certification has been funded by PRME. The trainees have worked through the assessment to become certified trainers who would embed sustainability into their teaching practices. They have been enabled to cascade the training module and train others (students/academics/organizations).
Thus, University of Management and Technology, Lahore (UMT) is about to become first Carbon Literate University of Pakistan. Shajara has been very impressed by the support shown by the President of the UMT Mr. Ibrahim Hasan Murad, Dean of Business School Prof. Naveed Yazdani and the enthusiasm shown by all the faculty members in attending the training. In this way, Pakistan as a vulnerable country would increase awareness among the masses. The government of Pakistan is trying to spread awareness, but the people at large have poor understanding of climate change which hinders any steady improvement. Thus, it is necessary to include sustainable approaches to teaching practices to develop responsible future researchers and business leaders.
Carbon Literacy is defined as “An awareness of the carbon dioxide costs and impacts of everyday activities and the ability and motivation to reduce emissions on an individual, community and organizational basis”. This Carbon Literacy Training(CLT) program equips the participants with the information and skills needed to make these high impact changes at workplace, such as research, teaching, or consultancy work to reduce carbon emissions and address multiple other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This high value training module was developed by Nottingham Business School, UK in collaboration with the UN PRME Champions, the international student organization ‘Oikos International’ and the Carbon Literacy Project. It also includes an introduction to En-ROADS, developed by Climate Interactive in collaboration with MIT Sloan and Ventana Systems. Just as every person learns to read and write, everyone needs to be able to read in the ‘carbon book of life’. This includes the ability to calculate the carbon emissions of every human activity from using an air-conditioning unit or drinking a cappuccino to buying clothes or using a hedge trimmer. Everyone needs to be carbon literate enough to choose climate solutions with the highest impact on improving the future for all. The Carbon Literacy Training provides this basic carbon literacy and enables participants to choose the best solutions regarding their own work, study and other important aspects of their life. It aims to equip everyone with the information to train others about carbon literacy. Besides, the CLT module helps participants identify multiple other benefits such as health issues and inequality.
A cherry on the cake came in form of certificates awarded upon full participation and completion of the training issued by The Carbon Literacy Project. It is positively hoped that this meticulously designed training program will be replicated to other universities and public/ private sector organizations across Pakistan to maximize its outreach and thus multiply its dividends. Thus, meeting the needs of UN SDG number 13 Climate Action and UN PRME’s principles.