Experts query planning impact of Paris climate change deal

A historic deal that makes a global commitment to tackling climate change was reached over the weekend, but experts are unsure whether it will lead to changes to national and local planning policy.

Deal reached on tackling climate change at Paris conference (picture by Keith Laverack, Flickr)
Deal reached on tackling climate change at Paris conference (picture by Keith Laverack, Flickr)

Under the global agreement reached at the United Nations conference in Paris, 195 countries pledged to work to keep global temperature increases below 2°C, and limited to 1.5°C.

Amber Rudd, energy and climate change secretary, said: "This deal will ensure all countries are held to account for their climate commitments and gives a clear signal to business to invest in the low carbon transition."

Angus Walker, partner at law firm Bircham Dyson Bell, said: "In the longer term I can see [the deal] having an effect in the planning system".

He added: "There are currently policies to encourage fracking and discourage onshore wind. But if gas-fired power stations cannot have their carbon abated … and if not enough renewables are coming forward then the encouragement and discouragement respectively might need to be looked at again."

He continued: "At the moment, the effect of the agreement having been reached is unlikely to be a direct material consideration in planning applications quite yet."

However, Cliff Hague, consultant, author, researcher and trainer, said: "In a rational world, you would think that one of the first things to do after this… you’d think there should be some kind of audit, overhaul or assessment of what’s there in planning policy… I just don’t really see the political will to do that at the moment in England."

Mike Kiely, chair of the board at the Planning Officers Society, said that there must be a focus on sustainable development in order to deliver on the climate deal pledge.

He added: "The deal should [change the government’s approach to renewables and fracking]. Whether it will, I wouldn’t hold my breath … I’m not expectant that we will see dramatic changes, but it does put more pressure on them to bring those changes in."

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