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Better Planning: Climate change

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Climate change is one of the most crucial issues facing our communities today, and the increasing occurrence of severe climate-change related weather events is just a reminder of the urgency of this issue. Climate change, like planning, requires us to take a long-term and spatial view.

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Cities have emerged as first responders to climate change as they experience the impacts of natural disasters firsthand, and they produce up to 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. In order protect urban dwellers from climate change impacts, such as more frequent and more intense heat waves, heavy downpours and coastal flooding, cities need to make themselves more resilient. Cities can also play a decisive role in mitigation and adaptation, through transition of energy supply to buildings, urban form and public infrastructure.

For instance, dispersed settlements typically result in higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions and resource consumption than compact settlements. This is attributable to increased car-dependency and energy consumption associated with low-density housing, coupled with the increased embodied energy during infrastructure provision. Dispersed settlements may also cover land with value for future climate adaptation, such as green spaces which mitigate against flood risk.

This Better Planning project will show how effective spatial planning is an important part of a successful response to climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, through tackling risk drivers such as unplanned urban development and environmental degradation, among other factors, and increasing resilience.

We are in the very early stages of research with a publication planned for 2017. If you would like to be involved contact: victoria.pinoncely@rtpi.org.uk.