Transition time

My local neighbourhood, I am pleased to say, has become one of the growing number of ‘transition towns’ across the UK. The ‘transition’ is to a low-carbon, post-oil economy.

In places such as Totnes, Lewes and Brixton, this is becoming an emerging movement for a wide range of initiatives. The Transition Handbook: from oil dependency to local resilience by Rob Hopkins is the latest and best in a series of works that promote local alternatives to the global economy. The forebear of this was probably Short Circuit by Richard Douthwaite, which looked with such a systematic eye at this that its most memorable section for me was the discussion of whether horses would make a reappearance as a mode of transport in a post-oil world…

I for one am not good with horses so my money will be on bicycles and low emission buses. 

In credit crunch times, any of these seem far less hippy as ideas. Even so, it takes a long time for new thinking to emerge. One of the lessons of the collapse of global finance is that the UK has been far too closed – and dismissive of dissident thinking. Those working on alternatives are given no airtime.

In the rush to find individual bankers, regulators and politicans to blame, we should not forget the political economy, the corporates and the media culture that close down radical ideas. Here is another transition we will need to make.

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One thought on “Transition time

  1. It appears that the recent climate change bill is now been been added as an agenda item in most local government organisations.

    In his You Tube address last week, Barack Obama said resolving the financial crisis ‘means investing $150billion to build an American green economy that will create 5million jobs’. Here across the pond we are on our way. The “Climate Change Bill” became law in November and is hitting policy makers across public and private sectors and carbon budgets should mean a new green economy for the UK. Two key politicians have said:-

    The ‘Climate Bill’ may be setting stretching targets for 2020 and 2050 but we must remember it does little to help us actually achieve them. We need a government who is committed to real change to help us not only meet our CO2 commitments but also drive the industrial development , innovations and research that will help create the “Green Collar” jobs of the future.
    – Greg Barker / Shadow Minister for energy and climate change.

    The ‘Climate Change Bill’ is a world first, setting out how the government will do its bit to reduce carbon emissions. The targets are ambitious, we have said we will cut the amount of carbon Britain pumps into the atmosphere by 80% by 2050. Around 42% of the UK’s CO2 emissions are the result of choices we make as individuals. Organisations and businesses are now beginning to adopt ways of reducing their carbon footprint.
    – Ed Miliband / Minister for energy and climate change.

    From a holistic view this is all well and good but what does this mean to you as a decision/policy maker?. How do you change a culture that barely thinks twice in jumping in a car to that very important half a mile trip to the shops?.

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