Keeping up the pressure on climate change

Neither politics nor the economy are distracting the institute from its commitment for action, insist Matt Thomson and Sarah Lewis.

The RTPI launched its Seven Commitments on Climate Change at the 2009 Planning Convention to raise awareness, improve skills and ensure that planning activities work towards mitigating actions that cause climate change, and adapting places to cope with it.

Recent headlines have focused on the change of government, a new planning system in England and spending cuts, but the RTPI has not lost sight of its commitments. Tackling climate change is a long-term goal and must not be derailed by more short-term concerns.

The whole institute has taken action, putting the commitments at the heart of our corporate strategy and manifesto. We are making climate change skills a key part of university courses and continuing professional development. We have put a range of information on our website and we are feeding ideas on climate change into national policy through consultation responses and engagement with government. In doing so, we are assisted by climate change champions within each of our networks and associations.

Our campaign for larger than local planning with 30 national organisations representing development, business and the environment as well as built environment professions was partly founded on the role of strategic planning in addressing climate change. We are joining forces with others including the Planning and Climate Change Coalition, founded by Town and Country Planning Association and Friends of the Earth, and are looking towards taking an active part in Climate Week 2011.

A key outcome of the commitments is the Climate Change Compendium - an online source of practice and research owned by spatial planners but available to everyone. This collates best practice examples suggested by our members as well as signposting to relevant information produced by others.

To this end we are developing case studies, including drawing on the experience of RTPI award winners for which the success criteria now include climate change issues. Projects include One Brighton and the London Rivers Action Plan.

But making the compendium work effectively relies on input from members. We need you to tell us about climate change action that works in practice. This could be something you have done that you are proud of or something you have heard about - wherever it is in the world. We also need you to tell us if you've tried something you have read about on our website and whether it worked for you. There is a pro forma you can use on our website.

The effort we are putting into the compendium is only worthwhile if it provides the information planners need to tackle climate change. That is why it is important for members to get involved, tell us what we are doing right and wrong, what is missing and let us have your suggestions for inclusion.

- Matt Thomson is RTPI head of policy and practice and Sarah Lewis is RTPI practice officer. The Climate Change Compendium can be viewed at

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