We’re going to start this post by assuming that you know the impacts that transport has on our changing climate. That in the UK it is the number 1 source of greenhouse gas emissions. And that emissions have barely changed since 1990. We will not lecture you on how bad things are.
But what we will ask is this. As a transport professional…
What are you doing about it?
Planning this year’s Transport Planning Camp came at an opportune time. When we first kicked off our ideas for the theme, climate protests were just starting in earnest. Members of the organising team even went along to the protests, enjoyed the atmosphere, listened to the talks, and spoke to activists.
Needless to say that we immediately thought the climate emergency would make an excellent topic for the camp. But one other thing struck us. It is hard for us as transport professionals to tackle this huge issue because it requires multiple coordinated actions at a variety of scales in order to have any meaningful impact on emissions.
We also deny ourselves agency because of this. Because transport is so big and has such an impact, it is tempting to think that all we need is for the Department for Transport or the European Union to do something, and the problem is sorted. Far from it. We transport planners have more power than we give ourselves credit for.
So we devised a strategy. Not to tackle climate change, but to have Transport Planning Camp act as a way of exploring what we can do as transport professionals at a variety of levels to meet the climate emergency.
You can read this strategy here. But here is our thinking.
Think of the agency by which people and organisations act, and their impacts, as a scale. An individual walking or cycling to work is acting at an individual level, and their impacts are likely to be local in scale. But if more individuals do that, their act is local, but their impact starts to scale up to the regional, national, and international level.
Conversely, a major international engineering firm may decide to stop building road schemes. The impact of that is international across their business, but also local as their employees are encouraged to adopt sustainable behaviours.
This also ties into how power structures are operating. Whilst we may be used to a ‘top down’ approach to policy making in transport, organisations like Extinction Rebellion show that decentralised forms of power have their merits too.
In summary, how actions are taken and the agency of those actors is extremely complex and constantly changing. So how do we plan transport interventions that meet this ever-changing dynamic?
That is what we want to explore at Transport Planning Camp next week. We do not have all the answers, and we certainly don’t think that there is one magic bullet that will solve every problem. But we think that in this complex mesh, there are a few things that transport planners can do that will have a huge impact.
But we cannot do this alone. We need a community to do this, and to run with it.
We need you.
So, what are we asking of you?
- If you have not done already, get your ticket to Transport Planning Camp. We have had a sudden upsurge in interest recently, so get them FAST.
- Come to the event with an idea. For a topic you want to discuss (its an unconference, so you will get the chance to pitch your session idea) or for an intervention you are keen to try.
- Enjoy the day. This goes without saying! Immerse yourself in the sessions, join in the debate, meet new people. And all the usual event stuff.
- Be part of the post-event community. We will share on the day how we plan to keep the conversation going after the event, to ensure the momentum is not lost. We want you to be part of it.
If our event in Leeds last year is anything to go by, it will be an awesome, inspiring, and tiring day. And we cannot wait to see you there.