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COP26 in The Planner

Words: The Planner
Climate change / Shutterstock_86013754

COP26 what is it, when is it taking place and why are you reading about it on The Planner website? Read on for answers to these questions and more.


Go straight to:

> About COP26

> The Planner's related articles 

> What is the RTPI doing?

> Contribute your thoughts on COP26, planning and climate change


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About COP26

COP26 - the 26th UN climate change conference - will take place in Glasgow from 1-12 November this year. The UK has the presidency of COP for the 26th conference and is producing the conference in partnership with Italy. It's a huge event and will attract thousands of delegates from all over the world, both for the official discussions from government representatives and the many fringe events taking place around the conference. 

Basically the event is the culmination of a series of smaller conferences that have been taking place all year. Overall, its aim is to accelerate action towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Dicussions at COP26 will be structured around four goals:

1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach

2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats

3. Mobilise finance

4. Work together to deliver


Conference coverage: We'll be reporting on relevant stories coming out of the conference during and after the event. We're also hoping to be present in the flesh - but you'll have to watch this space!

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The Planner's related articles 

Throughout 2021, we've been increasing the volume and frequency of news stories, opinions, features and case studies that consider the role of planning in delivering these goals.This has culminated in an entire issue (September) dedicated to COP26 and planning.

Here's a selection of what we've produced so far. We'll add new stories as we produce them.

These pieces are a combination of items written by professional journalists and planning and other industry professionals. We welcome good quality contributions (see Contribute your thoughts, below)




Goal 1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach

Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century. These will include actions to accelerate the phase-out of coal, curtail deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewables.

News stories

Pesonal views and opinions



Legal insight

"Spatial, economic and industrial strategies have always been interlinked, but net-zero is the new all-encompassing paradigm" - Rob Shaw, Net effects: The path to net zero

Goal 2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats

At COP26 we need to work together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to protect and restore ecosystems and build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives.

News features


Case studies

“Rewilding fundamentally is about connectivity – ecological connectivity and economic connectivity, but also social and cultural connectivity” - Rebecca Wrigley, A wilder way: An interview with Rebecca Wrigley

Goal 3: Mobilise finance

To deliver on our first two goals, developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance per year by 2020. International financial institutions must play their part and we need work towards unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero.

News stories



Legal insight

“There is an opportunity for planners to reframe the treatment of the natural environment in planning” - Caroline Vexler, the case for space: Why planners need to focus on natural capital

Goal 4: Work together to deliver

At COP26 we must finalise the Paris Rulebook (the detailed rules that make the Paris Agreement operational) and accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis through collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society.

News story



Personal views and opinions

Legal insight

“How can the UK realise these economic gains when the delivery of this environmental agenda keeps stalling?” - Ben Kite, We know how precious our environment is, so why are we delaying protections?

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What is the RTPI doing?

Representatives of the RTPI will be attending the summit, leading and particpating in activities around the main discussions. These are likely to include an event on the evening of World Town Planning Day (which is 8 November) titled The Race to Zero: How to Plan the World We Need. This event will be hosted in partnership with the American Planning Association, the Global Planning Network and the Commonwealth Association of Planners.

The institute is also looking to publish an international version of its pivoltal Plan the World We Need research ahead of COP26.

Overall, its main aims with the summit are to:

  • increase understanding of the role planners and planning can play in tackling climate change 
  • influence the COP26 discussions and debate, elevating the position of planning in tackling climate action
  • increase the profile of planning, planners and the RTPI
  • identify and highlight good planning practice to international audience and UK governments.

Keep an eye on the RTPI website for updates.

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Contribute your thoughts on COP26, planning and climate change

We regularly carry contributions from readers, RTPI members and others with a professional (or personal) interest in planning within the pages of the magazine and on the website. These usually take the form of comment and opinion pieces. If you have something to say about COP26, climate change and net zero and you think planners need to hear it, get in touch: [email protected]

We tend not to accept pre-written pieces as we have fairly strict editorial guidelines, but welcome suggestions with a few bullet points to illustrate your thinking. If we like it, we'll work with you to develop a piece.



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Coming up...

Our September issue is dedicated to COP26 and features news reports, interviews, comment and feature articles relating to each of the summit's goals. In addition, our November Young Planner's Issue will be guest edited by Scottish Young Planners who will be turning their minds to COP26.

And we're hoping to be present at the event itself and report live from the Glasgow about some of the events occurring around the main discussions.

To keep abreast of what we're doing you can:

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Image credits | Shutterstock; UN