THE first ever carbon literacy programmes for community groups, teachers and youth leaders are to be rolled out in Northern Ireland to provide education on climate change.
The initiative aims to inform people about the future challenges of climate change and how they can take positive action.
Research shows 75 per cent of teachers feel they have not received adequate training to educate students about climate change, while 68 per cent of pupils want to learn more about such issues.
Funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, the programmes will be delivered by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.
It is hoped the programmes will "change lifestyles and promote behaviour that leads to positive, individual action in reducing carbon emissions".
Teachers who participate in the training will also be well placed to deliver a new Open College Network accredited GCSE entitled, Reducing Carbon Footprints Through Environmental Action.
Lorraine McCool, a teacher from Loreto College in Coleraine who has taken part in the training, said the carbon literacy programme was "extremely useful and interesting, with excellent support offered both during and after the course".
"I’m now much more confident in discussing climate issues with my students, and excited for the changes that I can make in my own life from what I’ve learned," she said.
Dr Ian Humphreys from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: "Having recently returned from the Cop26 conference, it is clear that more and more young people are demanding information and action in response to the climate emergency.
"We need to see environmental education becoming a formalised part of the Northern Ireland curriculum and we can’t afford to wait years to see this happen.
"In the meantime the carbon literacy programmes will provide vital training for educators and young people and our hope is that they will then go on to influence others."
Environment Minister Edwin Poots said the programmes will "educate this and future generations about the threat of climate change and the impact their day-to-day behaviour has on our climate".
"Delivered by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, the project will help people improve their knowledge and understanding of carbon and how their daily activities like travel, energy use and food consumption impact on emissions," he said.
"They can then better understand the positive changes they need to make in terms of how they live, study and work, both as individuals and organisations, to help in the fight against climate change."