Sunday, 16 December 2007

Are Transition Towns going to save us? - a precis of a forthcoming article

Summary: More and more people are talking about how 'Transition Towns' (www.transitionculture.org) might change the world and save us from oil depletion and climate catastrophe. But there is I am afraid one critically important respect in which this bold hope could not possibly come true. It is this:
The Transition Towns movement alone cannot save us, because, within the existing economic system, some communities reducing their use of fossil fuels is received by everyone else as a price signal that it is OK to use even more fossil fuels. I.e. For every litre of petrol that (say) Totnes does not use, everyone else in Britain is very slightly incentivised to use more petrol, by the price not going up as much as it otherwise would.
Transition Towns alone can only function as demonstration projects. They show what is possible. But in order for them to be part of a movement of movements that actually reduces overall use of fossil fuels, legislation is needed. Legislation that enforces lower overall use of fossil fuels (e.g. through carbon rationing), and/or that forces everyone to try to become a transition town.
That is why I believe that both local action and political commitment are required. Unless we force political change, then Rob Hopkins's 'Transition Towns' vision of how why might make a transition to a saner future will remain a fantasy or a myth, rather than the reality we absolutely desperately need it to become.
p.s. Feb. 12th: Please see my full-length article on this, here: http://rupertsread.blogspot.com/2008/02/transition-towns-are-great-but-they.html

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1. 2. 3. Rupert's Read: Are Transition Towns going to save us? - a precis of a forthcoming article 4. 12. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 23. 24.

25. 26. Are Transition Towns going to save us? - a precis of a forthcoming article 27. 28.

29.
Summary: More and more people are talking about how 'Transition Towns' (www.transitionculture.org) might change the world and save us from oil depletion and climate catastrophe. But there is I am afraid one critically important respect in which this bold hope could not possibly come true. It is this:
The Transition Towns movement alone cannot save us, because, within the existing economic system, some communities reducing their use of fossil fuels is received by everyone else as a price signal that it is OK to use even more fossil fuels. I.e. For every litre of petrol that (say) Totnes does not use, everyone else in Britain is very slightly incentivised to use more petrol, by the price not going up as much as it otherwise would.
Transition Towns alone can only function as demonstration projects. They show what is possible. But in order for them to be part of a movement of movements that actually reduces overall use of fossil fuels, legislation is needed. Legislation that enforces lower overall use of fossil fuels (e.g. through carbon rationing), and/or that forces everyone to try to become a transition town.
That is why I believe that both local action and political commitment are required. Unless we force political change, then Rob Hopkins's 'Transition Towns' vision of how why might make a transition to a saner future will remain a fantasy or a myth, rather than the reality we absolutely desperately need it to become.
p.s. Feb. 12th: Please see my full-length article on this, here: http://rupertsread.blogspot.com/2008/02/transition-towns-are-great-but-they.html
30. 31. 32.