The Context of this Plan
Totnes is not the first town or city to start to explore the practicalities of moving away from oil dependency and high levels of carbon emissions. One of the first such plans was the Kinsale Energy Descent Action Plan, developed in 2005 by students at a college in southern Ireland, which was partly responsible for the formation of the Transition concept. It set out to explore how the town could make the move away from its oil dependency, seeing a huge potential opportunity in these inevitable changes. The Kinsale report became a viral phenomenon, being downloaded many thousands of times.
Since then, plans that relate to responses to peak oil have fallen into four categories. There are those that are local government-led, those that explore the wider impacts of peak oil on society, those that look at solutions in a wider context, mostly national ‘power down’ style responses, and finally there are those which, like this Plan, are community driven re-localisation plans, known as ‘Energy Descent Action Plans’ (a more detailed round up of other communities who have produced such plans can be found on the website). Some local authorities have passed ‘Peak Oil Resolutions’ (see box), and some local authorities, most notably Somerset and Leicestershire have passed resolutions in support of their local Transition initiatives.
Recent UK Government Policy
While the UK Government continues to state that peak oil is not an issue that needs to be considered until sometime beyond 2030, it is increasingly taking the issue of climate change very seriously. Its ‘Low Carbon Transition Plan’ (its very name inspired by Ed Miliband’s visit to the 2009 Transition Network conference where he was invited as a ‘keynote listener’) sets out a bold and visionary plan for the UK. It includes some of what is proposed here: micro-generation, energy efficiency and conservation and a concerted, cross-sector push to reduce the nation’s emissions by 80% by 2050. It contains much to commend it, and is also frustratingly unspecific on actual measures, especially in relation to food and farming1.
A couple of months later, the Cabinet Office released its latest document on the UK’s food policies, and, for the first time, put the issue of food security centre stage. Although it didn’t promote the idea of increasing regional food self-reliance, it was a significant step forward from DEFRA’s statement in 2003 that ‘food security is neither necessary, nor is it desirable’. We feel that what is set out in this Plan is ahead of Government thinking and policies, and will contribute to raising the national debate considerably, given that it is a community-led process, asking questions which Government still finds it uncomfortable to ask.
Nottingham City Council’s Peak Oil Resolution. (Passed 8th December 2008).
This Council acknowledges the forthcoming impact of peak oil. The Council therefore needs to respond, and help the citizens it serves respond, to the likelihood of shrinking oil supply but in a way that will nevertheless maintain the City’s prosperity. It acknowledges that actions taken to adapt to and mitigate against climate change also help us adapt issues around peak oil.
It will do this by:
- Developing an understanding of the impact of peak oil on the local economy and the local community
- Encouraging a move across the city towards sustainable transport, cycling and walking throughout the city
- Pursuing a rigorous energy efficiency and conservation programme through its carbon management plan, the work towards EMAS accreditation and on leading on raising energy awareness across all sectors to reduce dependency on oil based energy in the city
- Supporting research and production within the city which helps develop local effective alternative energy supplies and energy saving products in order to encourage a move away from oil based fuels and also in order to create local ‘green collar jobs’
- Co-ordinating policy and action on reducing our city’s carbon dependency and in response to the need to mitigate and adapt to climate change and peak oil.
In this way Nottingham City Council will not only be helping the city to rise to the challenge of peak oil but also encourage the city to grasp the opportunities which peak oil offers.
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