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Our Seven Commitments on Climate Change

Our economic, social, climatic and political environments are all in a state of flux. The choices we make today around the way we plan, design and build our places and communities will have significant repercussions for the future. If we don't continually review what we are doing and plan in the most effective measures to lessen climate change then we leave a terrible legacy.

Planning isn't about saying no; its about implementing a positive vision of a sustainable future. Our seven commitments set out a key direction for the profession: we believe that climate change is the most important issue of our time and planners must be at the cutting edge of best practice, acquiring knowledge and skills.

Our choices need to be as informed as possible. The RTPI has engaged in a comprehensive debate about how we to tackle the challenge of climate change, leading to a defined programme for action. The RTPI's seven commitments on Planning to Live with Climate Change were launched at the RTPI Planning Convention 2009, by the then President Martin Willey and John Healey MP, Minister for Planning.

globe_1_kate.jpg Promote behavioural change

The RTPI will promote understanding of how effective spatial planning helps meet carbon budgets and targets through managing demand for finite natural resources and energy usage. This means supporting individuals, organisations and communities to change their behaviour to:

  • reduce the overall demand for energy and particularly for carbon consuming travel
  • shift increasingly to the use of renewable energy
  • reduce the consumption of natural resources

We will work with governments and other partners to devise means of assessing and fairly sharing carbon budget costs to help reduce carbon footprints through national targets and policies. We will also help do this through the implementation and monitoring of local plans and policies.

We will support spatial planners contribution to behavioural change as they identify more sustainable futures through effective community engagement in plan making and development management, as well as through our Planning Aid and other community-based work.

globe 2 Adapt existing places

The RTPI will demonstrate how planning can help people adapt existing buildings and places to be more sustainable. We cannot rely on new development to ensure a sustainable global future, because most resource and energy use and carbon emissions emerge from existing places. The challenge is to adapt these places and to ensure that planning supports and encourages the necessary changes.

We will work with governments and other partners to identify and disseminate new means by which planning can provide incentives for adaptive change to existing buildings and places.

globe 3 Work towards responsive legislation and policies

The RTPI will undertake a review of planning-related legislative and policy obstacles to achieving sustainable development that responds to climate change at the UK and nations government levels. UK Governments have changed policy and practice to enable better responses to climate change in order to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. However, there is much still to do.

The RTPI will work with other professional disciplines, development sector and environmental interest groups to undertake an integrated review and identify where further reform is required. We will feed the results of this research back to Governments with specific proposals for further change. We seek Governments commitments to consider and implement the policy and practice recommendations that we will make.

globe 4 Improve current practice

The RTPI will undertake an evaluation of policies such as the Merton Rule at the regional and local level, to develop a good practice tool-kit of effective spatial planning practices which address climate change imperatives. Spatial planners have been innovating to develop new, climate-responsive policies and practices, but planners look to the RTPI to help them identify what works best.

We will also develop a tool-kit of tests, enabling the climate change proofing of regional and local plans and policies. Plans can contain innovative climate change responsive policies, but due to the effects of other policies and proposals, still produce poor climate change outcomes. Various tests have been developed to audit and climate-proof policies: spatial planners need to know what works best.

We will seek partners in government departments and agencies, and universities engaged in research to identify, evaluate and disseminate the best of this innovation, supporting innovative climate impact reducing policies and climate proofed plans, whilst further clarifying and simplifying the relationships between building design, building control and spatial planning on these issues.

globe 5 Celebrate best practice

The RTPI will identify ideas and work that demonstrate inspiring responses to climate change as candidates for all of our awards. The RTPI assesses and judges many entries for its existing planning awards. We shall ensure that tackling the climate change imperative is a fundamental requirement of our awards schemes.

We will use our awards to provide case studies that represent inspirational practice in responding to climate change.

globe 6 Compile a compendium of best practice

The RTPI will set out the results derived from the seven commitments and related actions in an on-line compendium of world class best planning practice and research, accessible to and owned by spatial planners but shared with everyone.

There are already valuable sources of data through other professional bodies and agencies. We will seek to work together to ensure that data is shared and signposted between these and other sources.

globe 7 Develop climate change education and skills

RTPI will review and change our education and life long learning requirements to ensure that all members have the knowledge and skills to respond effectively to climate change.

We will work with universities and other education partners to ensure that climate change is given necessary prominence in learning outcomes in professional education and training.

We will develop our Lifelong Learning and Continuing Professional Development policy to require that all members identify in the Professional Development Programmes how their learning and practice relate effectively to climate change imperatives.

We will review and develop our policy for approving training providers, taking into account the critical importance of climate change in planning education and training.


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