Introducing Climate Action Towns

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If we as a society are to achieve the emission reduction targets of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act and adapt to the impacts of the climate and ecological emergency, we need to move beyond initiating conversations and start to work together to deliver change.  The focus of the network are small towns with little historical involvement in climate action, the development of a methodology for an effective approach to communication and the initiation of collective action to tackle the impacts of climate change through mitigation, adaptation and behaviour change within our small Scottish towns.   

The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2020 – 21: Protecting Scotland, Renewing Scotland outlines a commitment, under the theme of ‘Supporting local economies and community wealth building’, to develop a network of Climate Action Towns. 

A&DS has been asked to deliver this programme of support by March 2022 to follow on from the Designing for a Changing Climate pilot.   

Our ambition for Climate Action Towns 

Our ambition for Climate Action Towns is that they embody collaborative partnership approaches adopted by the community, Local Authority, Third Sector, and other stakeholders, to deliver place-based approaches to climate action. 

The A&DS specific support will be identified by local need and can encompass a number of focuses such as adaption to climate change risk, creation of resilient food networks, the adoption of the 20-minute neighbourhood by place planning, eradicating fuel poverty with the creation of a community renewable energy co-operatives etc. 

A&DS will provide free and funded support to develop community understanding of how planning can act on the climate emergency, the benefits of place based collaborative partnerships and aim to facilitate the development of long-lasting systemic change within a ‘place’ to deliver co-ordinated climate action. 

We have the capacity to: 

  • Encourage connections across scales of planning policy and delivery, from national through regional to local level planning and community action 
  • Convene through our Public Sector Client Forum and the Local Authority Urban Design Forum 
  • Connect with other organisations and encourage networks across and between agencies, stakeholders and communities. 

Identifying Climate Action Towns 

Given the aims of Climate Action Towns a data driven approach was employed to identify potential towns. Using the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classifications (2016) and Census data (2011) 156 small towns in Scotland across 28 local authorities were identified.  A methodology to assess each place against a number of indicators – SIMD, flood risk, sea levels, Climate Challenge Funding and whether A&DS had previously engaged with the place has identified the locations with which we wish to partner.  We will be announcing the Climate Action Towns in the autumn of 2021.

Updated August 2021
Image: Illustration by Richard Carman

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