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The Transition Movement

From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience

Event, location



Transition Network

  • Peak Oil and its effects
  • Climate Change
  • Economic contraction
  • PO + CC + EC ≠ “business as usual”
  • Responses at different levels
    • global, national, local, personal
  • What is a transition town
  • Examples and achievements so far
  • Q&A discussion


peak oil
Peak Oil
  • we’ll never “run out” of oil
  • we’re running out of cheap, plentiful oil
  • oil underpins
    • industrial development
    • agriculture
    • economics
    • population
  • about ½ way through it…
  • it’s going to decline
peak oil a theory
Peak Oil – a theory?
  • 98 oil producers
peak oil a theory5
Peak Oil – a theory?
  • Not a theory for these 64 post peak producers
peak oil discovery
Peak Oil – discovery
  • US discovery peaked in 1930s
    • production peaked in 1971
  • UK discovery peaked in 1975
    • production peaked in 1999
  • world discovery peaked in 1960s
    • production will peak in 20??
peak gas for uk
Peak gas for UK
  • Source – National Grid
peak oil vs peak exports
Peak Oil vs Peak Exports
  • Oil producers getting richer
  • Developing their own economies
    • Middle East growth: 5-6% pa
    • Russia growth: 7% pa
  • Increasing their domestic consumption of oil
    • fuelled by subsidised prices
  • Less available for countriesthey export to. Like us …
peak oil what s it like
Peak Oil – what’s it like?
  • terminal decline
  • demand destruction
  • examples:
    • 1990s: North Korea
    • 1990s: Cuba
    • 2000: UK fuel crisis
    • Now: Poor countries
climate change the end of the debate
Climate Change – the end of the debate

The 4th IPCC report, 2007 states:

  • Warming of the climate system is unequivocal
  • Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely (confidence level >90%) due to the observed increase in human greenhouse gas concentrations

UpsalaGlacier, Argentina

why the arctic matters
Why the Arctic Matters

Polar Science Center Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington

what can be done
What can be done?
  • Global
    • Oil Depletion Protocol
    • Contraction and Convergence
    • Kyoto
  • National
    • TEQs, Cap & Share (energy rationing)
  • Community
    • Transition Towns, cities, villages, rural
  • Personal
    • “The work that reconnects”
    • self directed re-education
peak oil climate change food and the scottish parliament
Peak oil, climate change, food and the Scottish parliament
  • Unanimously passed motion
  • “…Parliament expresses its concern at the potential for global food shortages; … food price inflation now exceeding 6%; calls on the Scottish Government, Her Majesty’s Government, the European Union and other relevant bodies to … seek solutions that take account of the growing pressures on agriculture from both climate change and the rush to biofuelsas well as the peak in oil production … ensuring the long-term capacity and capability of our food supply; … encourage the development of local supply chains through public procurement, address the imbalance in power between the big supermarkets and our food producers....” (June 2008)
transition and somerset cc uk
Transition and Somerset CC (UK)
  • acknowledges [...] that the independence of the Transition Movement is key to its grass roots appeal.
  • fully endorses the Transition Town Movement and subscribes to the principles and ethos of the organisation's goals to reduce dependence on fuel oil and create more sustainable communities.
  • commits to providing support and assistance to all towns in Somerset that wish to join this initiative [...].
  • [...] allocating funds to assist in achieving the outcomes of the Transition Towns [...] requiring all directorates to support Transition Initiatives
  • seeks to become the first Transition Authority in the UK.
  • agrees to undertake a review of its budgets and services to reduce dependence on fuel oil and produce an energy descent action plan in line with the principles of the Transition Initiative.

(Motion unanimously pass by Somerset County Council in July 2008)

monteveglio council italy
Monteveglio council, Italy
  • Oil and fossil fuel depletion is this administration’s priority, to be implemented through an Energy Descent Plan to turn Monteveglio into a “Post Carbon” City.
  • Strategic partnership with the Association Monteveglio Città di Transizione [Transition Town Monteveglio] with whom this administration shares:
    • a view of the future (the depletion of energy resources and the significance of a limit to economic development)
    • methods (bottom-up community participation)
    • objectives (to make our community more resilient, i.e. better prepared to face a low energy future)
    • an optimistic approach (although the times are hard, changes to come will include great opportunities to improve the whole community’s quality of life).
  • Begin a participative and institutional process to promote Monteveglio as a Transition Town, with the direct participation of the whole community and a final statement by the City Council.
  • Define CO2 emission measurement tools and containment policies well beyond EU targets and in line with the global objective of 350 ppm.

excerpt from Monteveglio “Decree”

can we respond
Can we respond?
  • Going up the energy slope, we used
    • ingenuity
    • creativity
    • adaptability
    • cooperation
  • Going back down…
    • if we’re early enough
    • if we’re cooperative
    • the future could be a whole lot better…
what s stopping us 1
What’s stopping us? (1)
  • Dominant myths of today
    • Things are getting better
    • Tomorrow will be like today, but bigger and shinier
    • Economic growth is good
    • We must keep shopping
    • Technology will solve all our problems
    • There is no alternative
    • You can’t stop progress
    • Living standards are rising
    • Humans are selfish and greedy by nature
    • The market will solve it
    • We’re all doomed…
what are our stories for the future
What are our stories for the future?


Peak Energy?

Green-Tech Stability

  • Energy use
  • Resource use
  • Environmental degradation
  • Pollution

Industrial Ascent

Creative Descent (Permaculture)



Post Mad Max Collapse

Pre-industrial culture

Historical Time



Great Grand Children

Future Time




what s stopping us 2
What’s stopping us? (2)
  • Cognitive Overload Theory (fruit salad experiment)
  • Short term vs long term thinking
    • rational vs emotional
    • neocortex vs mammalian vs reptilian
  • Belief in authority figures
    • electrocution experiment - 65% gave lethal dose
    • obedient children survive
  • Sunk cost, or investment in the present
    • “it’s difficult convincing a person of something when his job depends on him not believing it”
  • Optimism
    • an optimistic outlook is neurochemically self-fulfilling
how are they organising
How are they organising?

Transition Model

  • Understands:
    • PO + CC + £â ≠“Business as usual”
    • Adaptable, creative
    • Start now
  • 7 Buts
  • “ingredients”
transition model 7 buts 1
Transition Model – 7 “buts” (1)

I’d get involved, but...

  • we don’t have funding
  • “they” won’t let us
  • turf wars with other green groups
transition model 7 buts 2
Transition Model – 7 “buts” (2)

I’d get involved, but...

  • no one cares about the environment
  • it’s too late anyway
  • I don’t have the right qualifications
  • I don’t have the energy for it
transition model step 1
Transition Model - Step 1
  • Set up an initiating group and design its transformation from the outset
    • atrophy
    • personal agendas
    • humility
    • stages 2-5
    • reforms from subgroups
transition model step 2
Transition Model - Step 2
  • Awareness raising
    • allies and networks
    • prepare community
    • movies
    • talks
    • events
transition model step 3
Transition Model - Step 3
  • Lay the foundations
    • other groups
    • existing projects
    • official bodies
    • businesses
    • collaboration
transition model step 4
Transition Model - Step 4
  • Organise a Great Unleashing
    • coming of age
    • powerful, passionate, informative, inspirational
    • timing
    • content
    • making connections
transition model step 5
Transition Model - Step 5
  • Form “working groups”
    • starting new groups
    • bringing in existing groups
    • guidelines
    • training
    • working groups and the steering group
transition model step 6
Transition Model - Step 6
  • Use “Open Space”
    • shouldn’t work!
    • one long coffee break
    • World Café
      • Harrison Owen - Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide
      • Peggy Holman and Tom Devane’ - The Change Handbook: Group Methods for Shaping the Future
transition model step 7
Transition Model - Step 7
  • Develop visible practical manifestations of your project
    • not a talking shop
    • chose carefully
    • lure in fence-sitters
    • team building potential
    • getting dirt under your fingernails
transition model step 8
Transition Model - Step 8
  • Facilitate the Great Reskilling
    • repairing, cooking, fixing bikes, natural building, loft insulation, dyeing, herbal walks, gardening, basic home energy efficiency, making sour doughs, practical food growing (the list is endless…)
    • egWWOOFing
transition model step 9
Transition Model - Step 9
  • Build bridges to Local Government
    • becomes crucial
    • don’t wait too long…
    • open door
    • Community Development Plan
    • elections…!
transition model step 10
Transition Model - Step 10
  • Honour the Elders
    • elders as a community resource
    • 1930 to 1960 – moving from oil scarcity to abundance
    • oral history
    • community infrastructure
    • not about going backwards
transition model step 11
Transition Model - Step 11
  • Let it go where it wants to go…
    • focus on the questions
    • unleash the community
    • any sense of control is illusory
transition model step 12
Transition Model - Step 12
  • Produce and start to implement the Energy Descent Action Plan
    • assess current situation
    • create 15-20 year vision for all key areas
    • integrate with community plan if possible
    • identify steps needed to get there
    • start the work
what kind of things are they up to
What kind of things are they up to…?

Typical activities

  • mending courses
  • loads of reskilling events, eg Dr Bike, composting toilets, reedbeds
  • working with local schools
  • cutting out plastic bags and holding workshops on how to make fabric ones out of scraps
  • getting sustainability books into their libraries
  • car share schemes
  • community supported agriculture schemes
  • guerilla gardening
  • permaculture courses
  • loads of awareness raising talks, movies, discussions
  • skillsharing
  • seed sharing
  • local food directories
  • local currencies
  • oral history archives
  • planting fruit trees
  • starting up locally owned renewable energy companies
  • garden share schemes
  • energy saving advice for the community
  • central buying of trees for “city orchards”
what are they up to uk
What are they up to…? (UK)

Taken from the May/June 2010 Roundup - a trawl of websites and googlealerts from around the world

  • Portobello, Scotland - short courses in vegetable growing and raised bed construction
  • TT Brixton - Master Gardener training course
  • TT Sevenoaks - including a seedling swap, advice on raising chickens and bees and a food hub
  • New Forest Transition – a new Local Food Market
  • Unleashings in Hebden Bridge, TT Malvern
  • TT Totnes published the EDAP
  • TT Finsbury in London – video workshops
  • TT Halesworth – upcycling (mending) project
  • Portobello – home water checks
  • TT Berkhamstead’s – car free day
  • TT Horncastle – Nappucino event (skillshare re alternatives to “disposable” nappies)
what are they up to europe and us
What are they up to…? (Europe and US)

Taken from the May/June 2010 Roundup - a trawl of websites and googlealerts from around the world

  • New TT initiative started up in Witzenhausen, Germany
  • Transition Hub starting in Brussels, Belgium
  • New TT initiative started in Heidelberg west, Germany
  • Unleashings in TT Carrboro-Chapel Hill and TT Whatcom in US
  • T San Francisco mulling over a local currency – “bernalbucks”
  • T Kurilpa and the Brisbane Transition Hub had David Holmgren (permaculture co-founder) at big awareness raising event
  • US TV show called ‘Sustainable Today’ featured David Johnson and Jim Newcomer speaking about the transition in Portland, Oregon
  • Transition Tasmania – ‘produce swap’ and no-knead bread skill share
  • TT Blackwood in Oz – seed share event
  • TT Invercargill, New Zealand were given a community garden
our choice
Our choice…
  • We’ll be transitioning to a lower energy future whether we want to or not. Far better to ride that wave rather than getting engulfed by it.